Review: The Wolf and The Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

What It’s About:

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.


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Guest Reviewer Tom’s Thoughts:

Set in 18th century Sweden, parallel to the French Revolution/Reign of Terror, The Wolf and the Watchman is a historical murder mystery, and oh, what a grisly murder it is!

The author sets the scene in exquisite detail, richly describing the stench, squalor, misery and hope of a barely surviving working class.  Through the vivid descriptions, readers can feel the bleakness of the era an experience the dampness invading their bones.  Characters and scenes are artistically painted as the author exquisitely links separate story lines to create the completion of the puzzle.  He has us rooting for each and every character as no one is without struggle nor unworthy of some redemption.  The interleaving of the stories is expertly crafted and every gory detail of life and death is explicitly and richly described….possibly to excess for some tastes.

This is a book you can’t put down.  Resolution of the strife of each character and their relation to the resolution of the murder makes this a gripping read.  In addition to this well crafted tension, what kept me going was sheer hope that some level of happiness would find each of these poor souls.

While the conditions as depicted can be very depressing, the perseverance of each victim, each in their own way, delivers a poignant testament to the depth of the human spirit.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Niklas Natt och Dag (“Night and Day”) is a member of the oldest surviving noble family in Sweden. He enjoys playing the guitar, mandolin, violin, and the Japanese bamboo flute. THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN, his first novel, was named the Best Debut of 2017 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers and is being published in thirty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and their two sons.


© Copyright 2018 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.


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