Edwardson, Åke 1953–

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Edwardson, Åke 1953–

PERSONAL:

Born 1953.

CAREER:

Writer, journalist, educator, and novelist. Gothenburg University, professor. Worked as a journalist and as a press officer for the United Nations.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' Award (three-time recipient).

WRITINGS:

Dans Med en Angel, ManPocket (Stockholm, Sweden), 1998.

Rop Fran Langt Avstand, Norstedt (Stockholm, Sweden), 1998.

Sol Och Skugga, Norstedt (Stockholm, Sweden), 1999, translation by Laurie Thompson published as Sun and Shadow, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Genomresa, Norstedt (Stockholm, Sweden), 1999.

Lat Det Aldrig Ta Slut, ManPocket (Stockholm, Sweden), 2000, translation by Laurie Thompson published as Never End, Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

Himlen Ar En Plats Pa Jorden, Norstedt (Stockholm, Sweden), 2001, translation by Laurie Thompson published as Frozen Tracks, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.

Jukebox, Norstedt (Stockholm, Sweden), 2003.

Till Allt Som Varit Dott, ManPocket (Stockholm, Sweden), 2003.

Also author of books on journalism and creative writing.

SIDELIGHTS:

Swedish novelist Åke Edwardson is a popular and successful crime writer in his native country and in Scandinavia. He is a three-time winner of the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' Award for best novel. Edwardson has been a journalist, a press officer at the United Nations, and a professor at Sweden's Gothenburg University.

Less well known in the United States, Edwardson's detective novels have been appearing in America in English translation since 2005. They feature recurring series character Erik Winter, the chief inspector of police in the Swedish coastal city of Gothenburg. Experienced and in his forties, Winter is still the youngest chief inspector in Sweden. When not unraveling complicated crimes, he is a jazz enthusiast and a gourmet cook. In Sun and Shadow, Winter's inaugural book in the U.S., he is facing serious life changes. His girlfriend, Angela, a doctor, is pregnant, and the two are preparing to marry. Elsewhere, his aging father, retired in Spain, has a serious heart attack. He travels to Spain to do what he can for his father and take care of his mother, encountering a sun-drenched world so different from his day-to-day life in dreary Gothenburg as to be surreal.

Back in Sweden, Winter's next case begins to unfold as Christian and Louise Valker, a sexually adventurous young couple, are savagely murdered in their apartment, then discovered weeks after the brutal crime. The case is no simple homicide, however, as the pair were found strangely mutilated, their heads severed and transposed and their bodies carefully posed and arranged, with loud death metal music playing in a continuous loop in the background. A cryptic message, scrawled in blood on the apartment wall, adds an even more sinister element to the crime. To find answers, Winter must learn about death metal fans, sexual swingers, and other subcultures far removed from his generally staid lifestyle. Soon, a similar second crime occurs, and one of the survivors gives testimony that suggests a police officer might be the perpetrator. Worse, the sense of doom moves closer to Winter's homestead as Angela receives odd phone calls and feels that she is being watched.

Critical reaction to Edwardson's American debut was generally positive. Library Journal reviewer Michele Leber commented that this "dark police procedural is a topnotch work, suspenseful to the very end, with appealing characters." Within the space of "its first few chapters, Sun and Shadow provides an evocative description of life in downtown Gothenburg: not the Sweden of Christmas cards, but the seedier side of drunks and petty crime," observed reviewer Maxine Clark on Eurocrime. "It's a relatively lengthy book, but passes quite swiftly," commented Fiona Walker in a Mystery Ink review. "The writing is excellent and the plot moves very well. There are several very pleasing side-strands to the book—the teenagers Maria and Patrik, who wander the Gothenburg streets at all hours to get away from home, are superb and touching characters—and the impression is of a well-rounded crime-novel, not just a successful puzzle," Walker continued. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the novel a "solid procedural neatly balancing the professional and personal lives of Winter" and his colleagues.

Never End reverses impressions of Sweden as a cold Scandinavian country and places Winter's next case in the atmosphere of a sweltering summer heat wave. Winter is called in to investigate when a recently graduated nineteen-year-old woman is raped after taking a nighttime shortcut through the local park. Some time later, a second rape ends with the victim dead, and Winter begins to notice similarities between these crimes and a nearly identical unsolved rape from five years prior. With worries about his wife, Angela, and the couple's newborn baby daughter firmly in the back of his mind, Winter sets out in search of answers among uncooperative witnesses, former victims, and long-cold clues. Edwardson pays particular attention to the interactions between Winter and his police colleagues as they undertake their methodical investigation. This novel and the others in Edwardson's Erik Winter series are "as much about character interaction as it is about story, but he is no slouch at building suspense," commented Bill Ott in Booklist. Walker, in another Mystery Ink review, remarked that the novel is "plotted really well, and the plot itself, which could have been nothing particularly original, is given a nice little twist from the potential five-year gap in a killer/rapists activity, and the intriguing possible links between the cases."

Two seemingly unconnected crimes veer toward an unexpected connection in Frozen Tracks, the third Winter novel to appear in America. Christmas is fast approaching, and the days are growing shorter as Winter and his team investigate the beatings of several male university students in areas around the city. The vicious attacks are linked by distinctive marks left on each victim by the unusual weapon used by the attacker. Elsewhere in Gothenburg, nursery school children are being lured away and abducted by a strange man in a car who promises them candy and treats. Winter's investigation takes him into the dismal landscape of rural Sweden, and ultimately into a tense race against time to save a kidnapped young boy from impending peril. Edwardson "creates endlessly interesting characters," particularly series protagonist Erik Winter, who "tackles crime after crime with a shrewd mind and a heavy heart," observed Allison Block, writing in Booklist.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2005, Bill Ott, review of Sun and Shadow, p. 1760; August 1, 2006, Bill Ott, review of Never End, p. 49; May 1, 2007, Bill Ott, "A Hard-Boiled Gazetteer to Scandinavia," p. 8; August, 2007, Allison Block, review of Frozen Tracks, p. 43.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of Sun and Shadow, p. 511.

Library Journal, May 15, 2005, Michele Leber, review of Sun and Shadow, p. 110.

New York Times Book Review, June 25, 2006, Marilyn Stasio, "Offbeat Cops," review of Never End.

Publishers Weekly, May 2, 2005, review of Sun and Shadow, p. 176; June 25, 2007, review of Frozen Tracks, p. 33.

ONLINE

Complete Review,http://www.complete-review.com/ (May 22, 2008), review of Sun and Shadow.

Euro Crime,http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/ (May 22, 2008), Maxine Clarke, review of Sun and Shadow; Maxine Clarke, review of Never End.

Mystery Ink,http://www.mysteryinkonline.com/ (May 22, 2008), Fiona Walker, review of Sun and Shadow; Fiona Walker, review of Never End.

Penguin Group Web site,http://us.penguingroup.com/ (May 22, 2008), biography of Åke Edwardson.

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/ (May 22, 2008), biography of Åke Edwardson.

What's Sarah Reading?,http://www.tcpl.org/sarah/ (March 6, 2007), review of Never End.

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Edwardson, Åke 1953–

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