OK, I swear I’m not going to read any more Swedish murder mysteries. Not right away, at least. I don’t remember exactly why I bought this one — certainly I have plenty of experience with the genre. In fact I am deeply puzzled at the success of Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I read a year ago and disliked. It is true that Edwardson is not quite as dark as Larsson. His murderer is nuts as well as bad — surely an extenuating circumstance? And there’s a ray of hope in the ending. It’s also true that the writing is more animated than Larsson’s. Edwardson dodges in and out of the viewpoints of many of the cops investigating a nasty series of rape/murders. He does it effectively, communicating some hint of what the emotional toll of such an investigation might be. Yet the technical business — for this is a solid procedural before it’s a psychological study — is quite dull. Or maybe that’s just me.
Part of the appeal of these books is their descriptions of Scandinavian weather. I find it fascinating: probably the extremes. Never End is set in Gothenburg, apparently a resort area, in the middle of a summer heat wave. There is almost no true night: morning comes around 2 a.m. Edwardson leans heavily on this bit of local color, and even though everyone is wandering around with a sunburn and eating ice cream all the time, he still manages to make summer ominous. That’s quite a trick.