Swedish author spins a complex tale in 'Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End'
By Rege Behe
Published: Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
The popularity of the trilogy of books by the late Swedish writer Steig Larsson has spurred interest in other Swedish mystery writers, notably Henning Mankel, Karin Fossum and Leif GW Persson, who has just released a new novel in the United States, "Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End."
Why are American readers flocking towards stories about Swedish crime?
"Perhaps it's the cold," Larsson says via e-mail. "All those frostbitten hearts. All those unspoken words. The loneliness. Being a Swede is being lonely."
Persson is no newcomer to the Swedish cavalcade of mystery writers; his first novel, "Grisfesten (Pig Party)" was published in 1978. A noted psychological profiler, Persson also has served as an advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Justice. "Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End" seems to use the author's skills to create profiles of the labyrinthine layers of Swedish law enforcement. When an American jumps from a building, the local officers see it as a simple case of suicide. Despite the fact that the jumper's shoe arrives a few seconds after he does, killing a dog being walked by elderly man.
Officials from Sweden's Secret Police are interested, but for a reason that transcends the death of a foreigner on Swedish soil. And something about the incident bothers Lars Martin Johansson, a superintendent with Sweden's National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, especially when a note is found in the heel of the deceased American's boot, addressed to Johansson.
What emerges is a complex profile of Swedish law enforcement, but Persson insists that was not his intent.
"I have very humble ambitions when it comes to writing novels: A story worth telling, thrilling with a documentary tone, if possible with some humor in it," he says.
As the plot unfolds, the novel — set in the mid-1980s — starts to involve the upper reaches of Swedish government in general, and in particular Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister who was assassinated in 1986. His killer was never found, and much of "Between Summer's Longing ... " indulges the speculation that Palme was murdered because of rumored ties to the Soviet Union.
Persson agrees that for many in Sweden, especially Social Democrats, Palme's murder was comparable to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the U.S.
"Among liberals ... the Olof Palme assassination is a kind of national trauma," he says, noting that especially officials in the police and military believed the prime minister was working with Russians. "Palme was a very, very controversial politician according to the Swedish standards."Additional Information:
Because he's Swedish, Leif GW Persson's work is going to be compared to that of Stieg Larsson, the author of the wildly popular Millennium trilogy. That's patently unfair; are all Irish novelists compared James Joyce, or U.S. writers judged by the standards set by Faulkner or Twain?
Persson's novel 'Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End,' was published in Sweden in 2002, three years before 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.' It's a brainy, complex thriller with deep psychological underpinnings, the antithesis of the breezy mystery novel. Persson takes his time, developing his characters deliberately; the plot unfolds at a similarly deliberate pace. That suits a novel that is by turns intriguing and horrifying, occasionally leavened with a dark Swedish humor.
• Rege Behe
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sbarro again files for bankruptcy reorganization
- Campus clippings: Zalewski back to old self at Kent State
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Greyhounds again in underdog role
- Thomas Jefferson, Central Valley prepare for rematch
- 1,500 Bangladesh factories set to be inspected by August
- Health secretary sees benefits of SPHS Primary Care
- Monessen will analyze downtown parking
- Pit bull runs wild in Monessen
- Tax delinquency’s impact varies in Valley
- A-K Valley PIAA girls basketball playoff preview capsules