The Scandinoir bandwagon is now a rustbucket. ‘Over 10 million books sold world wide’. Ten million suckers then. Big print, double spaced, short changed. Sorry, but.
Okay. Four pensioners celebrate a modest lottery win. Next morning, one is found dead in his bed. Was it his wife, or one of the winners, looking to increase the share-out? When another of the four goes missing – and so on.
A puff from the Sunday Telegraph tells me that Inspector Van Veeteren is ‘among the great Swedish detectives’; that he is ‘quirky and engaging.’ So why do we wait until page 205 till he makes an appearance? And then see little of him thereafter? He runs an antiquarian bookshop, rolls his own and can still get it up at fifty eight (cheers) – and that’s what makes him a ‘terrific character’? I suppose he has been suspended in one of the five previous tomes in this series, probably for sailing too close to the wind, but honestly, I can’t be bothered to find out.
The rest of the squad aren’t much livelier. The dialogue is flavourless. There’s one – married – who fancies a colleague. That’s to try and make you buy the next one. The rest are a hard-to-tell-apart, dozy bunch of non-descripts and incompetent with it.
We Mean Street-walkers know a thing or two about police competence. We have also picked up a bit about spatter. Twenty eight stab wounds and not a trace on the the perp? When the second victim is dismembered, the bathroom is spotless. Where’s the blue light thingie from CSI when you need it? I suspect that this lot have mislaid the operating manual.
Nor are we impressed when the investigators forget to inform the deceased’s readily available relatives of his demise. When a witness living on a barge reached by a slippery drawbridge over deep water disappears, we would have called in the frogmen a good two hundred pages before it occurs to this dozy crew. When we learn – near the beginning – that one of the victim’s offspring is mured up in a remote asylum, we would be in there like the clappers – and out of here sooner, because that of course is where the dark secret lies hidden, and you won’t have any difficulty guessing what it is.
If I haven’t put you off yet, don’t read on, because here comes what might be called a spoiler, if there was anything here to spoil. How is it that child abuse has become the default option? This isn’t just lazy; it clouds the issue. I don’t just mean that it trivialises a dark and nasty corner of the human psyche. It presents the uncovering of abuse as the solution, the resolution, the last word; end of story, job done. When we know that it isn’t.
Oh – and the weather’s awful. Unlucky lottery? More like the short straw.