Sun and Shadow, Åke Edwardson, translated by Laurie Thompson. New York: Penguin, 2006.
Summary: DCI Erik Winter, newly bereaved of his father, is confronted with a gruesome double-homicide of two sexual “swingers”, the possibility of involvement within his own ranks, and a pattern of clues that suggests that his partner, pregnant with their first child, may be at risk.
I am a fan of Penguin mysteries. I will often buy one even if I’m not familiar with the author, because I’ve found them to be consistently well-written and well-crafted as mysteries. I came across this one in a second hand store, by Swedish crime writer Åke Edwardson. I was not disappointed but it took reading the first hundred pages to fully engage my attention. After that, I was riveted.
In the first hundred pages, we are introduced to the characters, especially Detective Chief Inspector Erik Winter, impeccably dressed, a lover of jazz, and engaged in a serious relationship with Angela, a doctor who is bearing their first child. Much of the first part of the book is taken up with his final visit with his dying father in Spain, interrupted by a bloody double murder involving sexual “swingers” back in Gothenburg. We are introduced to Patrik, a newspaper carrier who in fact saw the murderer and first suspects something is not right in the flat where the murder occurred, his girlfriend, Maria, the building caretaker who reports the murder (and is also caretaker in Winters’ building), and the police who work with Winter. As it turns out, all this scene-setting and character development is important as we follow Winter into the investigation.
Winter’s investigation centers around clues left by the murderer. A cassette of “black metal” music with its lyrics. The word “Wall” written in blood with the “W” circled. The beheaded heads of the victims swapped on their bodies. Then there are the calls to his flat when only Angela is there. The presence of someone in the caretaker’s basement cubbyhole in his building. A second murder of another “swinging” couple. A crime psychiatrist thinks the clues point toward someone who wants to be stopped. By Winter. Evidence points to a policeman or someone dressing as one. Can the people around Winter be trusted? Is Angela and their baby in danger?
One finds oneself more and more drawn into the suspense as the killer and Winter get closer to each other. Skillful misdirection has us suspecting several different individuals even as we approach the book’s climax. The plot is dark, yet we have decent people wrestling with the profound realities of life against the gruesome backdrop. I was delighted to discover at the Penguin Random House website that there are at least four other Erik Winter mysteries available. Winter is a well-drawn character, and Edwardson a fine writer whose work I want to come back to. I think you will as well.