Edwardson, Ake - 'Never End' (translated by Laurie Thompson)
NEVER END is the fourth in the Detective Chief Inspector Erik Winter series and the second to be translated into English. Ake Edwardson has won the Swedish Crime Writer's Award three times for best novel.
The events take place in Gothenburg in 2000 during a record-breaking heatwave. The temperatures are hotter in Sweden than in Spain, where Winter's mother lives.
Late one night, nineteen year old Jeanette Bielke decides to take a shortcut through the park where she is attacked and raped. Instead of going straight to the police she goes home and scrubs herself clean. When the police do arrive there's limited physical evidence left and she can tell them very little.
The crime strikes a particular chord with Winter and his colleague Halders as it occurred in the same spot as the unsolved rape and murder of another nineteen year old, Beatrice Wagner, five years before. Winter keeps in touch with the family and returns to the murder scene frequently hoping to one day stumble across the culprit returning to the scene.
Soon there is another murder at that spot, another young woman, killed in a similar way to Beatrice. The police have little to go on and at first there seems to be no connection between the victims other than their age. The police continue to question the Bielke family as Jeanette is their best lead, but are frustrated by their lack of co-operation.
Winter eventually does find a connection between the victims but it takes a long while to come to fruition and leads to a very tense ending.
Winter is not your average fictional policeman. He does smoke but doesn't have an alcohol problem. He's in a happy relationship, has a fifteen-month-old baby and is only in his early forties. He’s prone to introspection and is due to take a year out from his job and whether he'll return at the end of it, is up in the air.
NEVER END is entertaining enough and I will certainly be reading more by this author but it did take an age to get going. There is very little action at first as there are no leads to follow. Winter spends a lot of time reading and re-reading case files. Even so, at the end, I felt that there were several ends left untied.
What I did enjoy was having the story told from several points of view and following the professional and personal lives of several of the different police officers in Winter's team. It reminded me fondly of Dell Shannon's Lieutenant Mendoza series, which hooked me on crime fiction at an early age.
The sense of place was well conveyed, both that of Gothenburg and also the stultifying heat, and the mystery angle turns out to be much more complicated than it first appears.
I'm interested to see what the next book brings and whether Winter will have had his sabbatical and what the impact of it will have been.
Read another review of NEVER END.
Karen Meek, England