Like his fellow countryman Henning Mankell, Åke Edwardson is a successful figure on the international mystery scene and a brilliant discovery for lovers of intricate, psychologically charged, and stylish crime novels. With Sun and Shadow, Edwardson introduces readers to detective Erik Winter, the youngest chief inspector in Sweden, who wears sharp suits, cooks gourmet meals, has a penchant for jazz, and is about to become a father. He's also moody and intuitive, his mind inhabiting the crimes he's trying to solve. In this atmospheric, heart-stopping tale, Winter's troubles abound—and a bloody double murder on his doorstep is just the beginning.
Cars from Sweden are known for being dependable and safe, but like this American debut from a celebrated Scandinavian crime writer, their stolid lines don't necessarily spark excitement. Erik Winter, a jazz-loving, gourmet-cooking detective, is a blaze of color amid the drab postwar apartment blocks of Gothenburg, a city reeling from a macabre double murder. Winter, whose normally secure battlements are assaulted by family tragedy and the impending birth of his first child, sets out to follow the dark drops of gore blooming in the snow. The path leads in any number of interesting directions through thickets of death metal enthusiasts and swingers, through winds of psychosexual trauma but these subjects never pierce the book's colorless atmosphere. Excessive exposition slows down an already unhurried plot, which Americans fond of glib investigators on CSI and Hannibal Lecter's piercing irony will find insufficiently suspenseful. The villain is comparatively bland, and the translation often awkward: Winters takes a "softly softly approach" so that his witness doesn't get "chary." Add in an insistence on mundane details, such as the particulars of a simple bank transaction, and the results smother any flame of personality. All the blocks that built this gothic ice cathedral are cut straight, but assembled without the design of a compelling thriller.