The Erik Winter series by Ake Edwardsn now has a new series translator, Ken Schubert, who seems to more fully capture Edwardson’s signature atmospheric style.
The most recently translated book by Edwardson, Death Angels, is America’s introduction to Sweden’s youngest Chief Inspector as he teams up
with Scotland Yard to solve mysterious parallel killings of young British and Swedish tourists. Ake Edwardson’s writing is richly evocative of mid-nineties South London and Gothenburg, Sweden, and Death Angels is a good opening to a mesmerizing series that has become a phenomenon in international crime fiction.
Death Angels is the fourth novel in the Chief Inspector Erik Winter series published in English, but it is actually the first book in the series (and Åke Edwardson’s third novel) in Swedish. So if you are trying to come to grips with Erik Winter – trying to understand this interesting Swedish detective – this book is a good place to start.
In Death Angels readers familiar with the series meet a younger and unmarried Erik Winter. However, he is even now a Chief Inspector. Winter was the youngest detective ever to be promoted to such an elevated position in Sweden. And he is pretty much the Erik Winter we have come to know in the later books: A bit remote and contemplative, a loner, quite a bit of a snob, likes expensive brands and jazz, slightly philosophically oriented, and with a sometimes quite surprising way of thinking – as when he sees that the lights are out in his sister’s house, concludes that nobody is home, and tells himself that “Now would be a good time to call her”.
In this book the youngish Chief Inspector teams up with Scotland Yard to solve a mysterious case of parallel killings of young British and Swedish tourists. It involves young men murdered in extremely horrible ways, with blood on walls. Strangely Englishmen are killed in Sweden, and Swedes in London. The killer, dubbed Hitchcock, appears to have filmed the butchery, as evidenced by traces of a tripod stand in the victims’ blood. Possibly the plan is to distribute the recordings as snuff films.
A female stripper named “Angel”, whom one of Winter’s detectives investigating strip clubs gets in touch with, seems to be a person that knows more than she tells. And a thief who breaks into a house finds a sack full of clothes that have lots of blood on them.
Death Angels is well constructed police procedural. The story is a little slow in taking off. It is not quite as good as Edwardson’s later novels in the series, but we have to remember that it is the debut book in the series. And as such Death Angels is very good opening to a series that has improved over time. The novel is also smoothly translated. And the ending is very interesting, with some very neat twists in the tale.