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Åke Edwardson, Rum nummer 10 (Room No. 10)

Norstedts,  2005. ISBN: 911301465X

Reviewed by Irene Scobbie in SBR 2006:1

This is Edwardson’s seventh novel featuring his Gothenburg detective Erik Winter. The body of a woman, Paula Ney, has been found hanging in room 10 in a seedy hotel near Gothenburg Central Station. Winter is called to the scene and realizes he has been here before, eighteen years ago, when Ellen Börge had disappeared from exactly the same room. An inexperienced young detective at the time, he never succeeded in finding Ellen, and ever since then has been conscious of having missed something which could have solved the case. Now he wonders if the two cases could possibly be connected. The novel, like the other six in the series, is strong on plot. Aided efficiently by his police colleagues, Winter delves into the background of both events, interviews the victim’s relatives, hotel staff, etc., unearths one more body and finds two more hanging in an hotel, before homing in on the culprit. The book is well-paced, slowly following police procedure, scrutinising clues, but then gathering momentum until the final climax when Winter’s life is in great danger when he is alone with the murderer. One has to keep alert, as occasionally without warning we are taken back eighteen years. There are also a few interpolated passages where an anonymous “she” feels she is being followed and in danger, and these seem to muddy the waters rather than heighten the suspense. However, all is revealed and fitted neatly into place by the end. The setting is Gothenburg throughout, and Edwardson skilfully builds up the atmosphere there from an Indian summer to the autumn rains. Anyone who knows Gothenburg will be able to visualize exactly where the action takes place. As well as police procedure, the novel is sound on characterization. Winter and Ringmar still work together, bouncing ideas off each other; Fredrik Halders’s manner and his humour are as eccentric as ever, but Aneta Djanali can handle him in her quiet, pragmatic way. There is rather a touching scene where Winter comes across his chief, Sture Birgersson, alone in his office in tears. His private life is unknown to his subordinates, but he confesses to Winter that he is due to retire soon, and that police work has been his whole life. They go off for a comforting drink – and the next day Birgersson tells Winter to forget the incident. What incident? replies Winter. It is above all Winter’s character that dominates the novel. He is now a family man who loves his partner and two daughters. Through flashbacks showing him at the outset of his career we see how he has developed professionally – not least in his interviewing technique. He is an honest, gifted detective who has learnt to marry routine with insight. Experience has not made him cynical, but it has affected his whole attitude to life and society, and made him despondent and ready for a change. He has promised to take a sabbatical and live with his family in Spain, where his partner Angela, a medical doctor, will work at a clinic. If his plans come to fruition he may return to Gothenburg a happier man. I look forward to it.

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