It’s interesting to read proto-Scandinavian murder mysteries. It’s also interesting to read the novels that inspired famous BBC representations of those novels.
This is an early crime novel in the sense of crime novels being about the violence, and the world around that violence, and the world that created that violence.
There’s an introduction to this novel written by Henning Mankell, who is as famous as could be in the world of Nordic crimes novels, and he talks about this being a novel about details, about social politics, and about entering into a new world.
And I suppose it is. The victim in this novel had a kind of modern sensibility about sex. It was not something she engaged in from a damaged or crazed perspective, she was not ashamed or depraved. She liked to have sex with men, but her mistake is that your desire to live in a world better than the world you live in doesn’t actually make your world better than it is. And it comes with a cost.
The narration of this novel is very stark, clipped, laconic, and to the point. It’s not bad at all, but it comes across as quite dry. “He say at home and thought about his sunset” and then he did. That’s a paraphrase, but more or less represents the kind of novel we’re dealing with here.
Last night I watched the 2003 movie Memories of Murder and this novel made me think about how not very good they were at solving crimes. There’s a scene in that movie where they have to wait for weeks and weeks for the results from a DNA test to come through and this novel is similar. There’s no quick fixes, no sudden epiphanies, just evidence collecting, and results.