Book Reviews: The Shadow Woman by Ake Edwardson and Stranglehold by Ed Gorman

The Shadow Woman
Ake Edwardson
Translated by Per Carlsson
Penguin Books Original, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-14-311794-0
Trade Paperback

Slow and steady:  Sweden’s youngest Detective Inspector seeks elusive clues in this slow, plodding police procedural about a murder victim that takes half the book to identify.  Erik Winter, the dapper inspector who likes expensive clothing and cars, and finds it difficult to grow up to a maturity in relation to his girlfriend’s desire for more permanence, is an intuitive, careful thinker confronted, in this second installment in a Swedish noir series, with almost no clues about the victim or murderer, other than that she has borne a child.

The plot switches back and forth between the present-day investigation and flashbacks, so the reader – this reader, at least – is at a loss as to where the story is at.  It is confusing at best, yet interesting, from a psychological point of view.  There are some idioms the translator apparently inserted into the text which have no obvious counterpart in Swedish.

Having struggled over a longer period of time to read the novel than would be devoted ordinarily to a book of this length, it is with ambivalence that it is recommended, solely on the basis that it is an interesting work.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2011.

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Stranglehold
Ed Gorman
Minotaur Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-53298-7
Hardcover

The cynical political consultant Dev Conrad returns in this well-plotted, twisting tale of intrigue and blackmail during a Congressional election campaign.  The candidate has a long-standing hidden secret which, of course, could cost her the election.

Dev’s staff is at its wit’s end trying to keep the campaign on an even keel, but the candidate keeps eluding the political experts and they call in the boss to find out what’s wrong.  Dev arrives and begins to follow the candidate and has to act as a detective to follow the clues, something the reader can do easily.

Written with humor and insight into the workings of a political campaign (after all, the author is a veteran of six of them), the characters seem real enough to occupy the front pages of one’s hometown newspaper.  The story is filled with enough hurdles to keep the reader from jumping to conclusions and interested in the outcome.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2011.

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