TribLIVE

| Home


Weather Forecast
 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Swedish author spins a complex tale in 'Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End'

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


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:

Capsule review

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

Most-Read Stories

  1. UFO, Bigfoot encounters to be discussed at Connellsville library program
  2. Pens insider: Penalty killing a concern in Stanley Cup playoffs
  3. Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
  4. Man found fatally shot in Larimer a mile away from Homewood peace march
  5. ‘Going downtown’ with dad, mom in ’50s among Connellsville antive’s treasured memories
  6. Chat with Dejan Kovacevic: April 18, 2014
  7. Resurfacing part of Route 119 on list of PennDOT projects in Connellsville area
  8. Crash victim dies day after ‘horrific’ wreck in Armstrong County
  9. Day of Giving to benefit Butler symphony
  10. Champion church offers new sound effects for annual remembrance of Crucifixion
  11. Judge explains why suspect in East Liberty killings was freed
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.