Review: Frozen Tracks by Ake Edwardson

Title: Frozen Tracks

Author: Åke Edwardson (translated by Laurie Thompson)

Publisher: Vintage  Books [original edition 2001, this translation 2008]

ISBN: 9780099472070

Length: 538 pages

Setting: Sweden, Present day

Genre: Police Procedural

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating: 4/5

One-liner: An emotionally charged and unpredictable novel which I struggled to put down.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

In the weeks before Christmas several police stations in Gothenburg receive phone calls from parents who think their children might have, temporarily, been kidnapped by ‘a mister’. However because the incidents are minor (the children are unhurt and parents aren’t even sure the children whether the children have imagined things) and not logged centrally no one realises there might be a pattern of crimes emerging. At the same time DCI Erik Winter and his team are investigating a series of apparently random but brutal bashings of young men in the city. Both sequences of events begin to gain momentum while the personal lives of the investigating team take a battering too.

I’ve not read the previous two books in this series that have been translated into English but I don’t think I am at much disadvantage. I was quickly engaged by the eclectic investigative team who are dogged, introspective and quite funny. There’s a mildly insulting banter that is depicted between the team that lightens an otherwise quite sombre book and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect (and kudos to the translator for this in particular as I think humour must be the most difficult thing to get right). At different times though team members can be emotional with each other, such as when Winter is consoling his friend and colleague Bertil Ringmar, and this depiction of people being affected and conflicted by events in their personal and professional lives is very compelling. Edwardson does a good job too at showing the effects of crime on victims and their families and also the families of investigators although the same depth wasn’t really visible with the main suspect who I found to be a bit stereotypical.

The story is, for the most part, well constructed although I did find the ending a little more convoluted than it needed to be. However the parallel cases are developed nicely with a realistic sense of wrong turns and dead ends and any linkages between the two threads are plausible. There are some slow points in the pacing which could easily have been removed by tighter editing and I am, again, at a loss to explain why books are so much longer these days than their counterparts from 10 or 20 years ago.

Edwardson has an odd style of writing in which a good deal of the action is inferred rather than described explicitly and many of the facts of the story are revealed through conversations between the team members rather than pure narrative description. I can understand that this might be frustrating for some readers as it leaves quite a few things unknown but it gave me the feeling that I was eavesdropping on a current investigation rather than reading a report once the case had been closed and I liked the immediacy and unpredictability this offered.

Other stuff

It was this review by Maxine at Euro Crime that made me pick this book up from the specials table (because I never buy books I don’t need without prompting) and Fiona at Euro Crime also offers her take on the book.

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3 Responses to Review: Frozen Tracks by Ake Edwardson

  1. Thanks for the review. You make an interesting point about humor. It certainly can be hard to translate humor, as it’s so culturally contextual. I think because I’m a linguist, I just notice those things. I, too, enjoy a book where there’s just the right dash of banter that lightens the book without taking away from the plot.

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