Friday, June 27, 2014

Sun and Shadow - Ake Edwardson

A policeman with relationship problems? No. Does he have a drinking problem? No. Any existential crisis? Not really, unless you consider the adjustment period when two people decide to get together to be a existential or relationship crisis. Ake Edwardson's ErikWinter does not check many of the standard tropes of the main protagonist of a police procedural and that itself is a refreshing change and gives him a head start over his other contemporaries who are busy solving crimes. Oh yes, there are references to the type of music that Erik likes and so it is not as if Edwardson is striving to make Erik completely different from other fictional policemen.

'Sun and Shadow' sees Erik Winter getting ready for his girlfriend to move in with him. He is also awaiting their first child. He has to juggle changes to his personal life with a series of murders of couples who don't seem to have been related to each other in any way.  Edwardson takes his time setting up the story which is interleaved with Erik's personal life, his professional interactions. The motive for the crimes is hinted at the very beginning and can be guessed quite easily. It is also clear by the middle of the novel that the case is going to hit close to home for Erik. Edwardson though, throws up a unexpected twist at the end regarding the identity of the perpetrator.  The ending too is totally 'Scandinavian' in the sense that there are no bangs or frills, just a seriously dangerous situation handled in a matter of fact manner. 

Edwardson has a narrative style which is not loud or too violent, which makes even the more violent crimes a bit more palatable. You don't get the feeling of being rushed headlong towards the end, it is a more logical progression of being carried by the natural flow of investigation towards it. Edwardson nearly loses it though while going into great detail about sub-plot concerning Winter's parents. I get that Edwardson is trying to create a specific universe for Winter so that he feels more real and the reader more close to him, but the digression becomes too long, (nearly 1/4th of a 400 plus page novel) where the rewards do not match the effort put in it. Having read his 'Frozen Tracks', it seems that these digressions are a pattern with him, where he nearly loses track of the main story line. Notwithstanding these digressions, and if you dig the placidity (which as mentioned earlier is very natural) of the narrative this is a series worth your time.


  1. I'm a big fan of Edwardson but he's never made it big in the UK in the way others have. I think this is partly due to the slow moving nature of the narrative. It can't be because of the emphasis on the personal as this is a common theme in Scandi crime. Glad you liked it.

  2. What you say about the slow moving nature of the narrative is true. At some points, the story just gets stuck in the same place. It may workout for shorter novels, but in the case of 400 plus pages novels like most of his are, they do test your patience