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Segel av sten
(Sails of Stone)
Norstedts, 2002. ISBN: 911301093X
Reviewed by Irene Scobbie in SBR 2003:1
Although born in Småland Åke Edwardson has made Gothenburg his home, and usually sets his novels there. He also seems to be increasingly interested in Britain. Dans med en ängel, (Dance with an Angel) for instance, moves between Gothenburg and Croydon, while here he has chosen Scotland, in particular the north-east fishing harbours. He depicts both settings with convincing authority.
The Osvalds are a traditional fishing family from Donsö, a small island off Gothenburg. John Osvald and another two crew members had gone out on their trawler, the Marino, off the north-east coast of Scotland in heavily mined waters in 1941, and had sunk without trace. Since then others connected with the Marino have either died or become senile, and the matter seems closed. Axel, John’s son, has received a note, however, saying that the John Oswald affair is not what it seems, and he has gone to Scotland to investigate his father’s mysterious death. Axel disappears, and D.C.I. Erik Winter is asked by an old flame, Johanna Osvald, to find her father Axel. Reluctantly at first, Winter looks into the case, joined by D.I. Steve McDonald, based in Croydon but originally from north-east Scotland. Their search takes them to Inverness, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Buckie, Cullan, and Elgin, and they grow certain that a crime was committed all those years ago. Axel is then found naked by a lake in the hills, having died of hypothermia. We follow a well-paced story of wartime smuggling and family relationships, leading up to a final shooting.
As usual with Edwardson, an unrelated crime is being investigated simultaneously, starting with wife-battering and progressing through organized burglary and death. This often takes us to the meaner, more claustrophobic parts of Gothenburg city, while the Osvald theme opens out on to the world of archipelagos and fresh North Sea winds. Both cases come to a climax at the same time, and Edwardson skilfully increases the tension by alternating his account, making us await developments in both settings.
Several characters from earlier novels are further developed convincingly. The sympathetic Winter is still a gourmet, impressing the Scots with his ‘nose’ for whisky, but his sartorial habits are no longer mentioned, perhaps because he is in Inverness, not London, or perhaps being now a husband and father he has other priorities. (Winter admirers may be pleased to know that his wife Angela announces a second pregnancy at the end of the novel). Winter’s taste in music is also progressing – or deteriorating, depending on one’s point of view; indeed neither he, his colleagues nor any police car seems able to function without first selecting a CD, and the text is punctuated with performances by Coltrane, Led Zep, Patsy Chine, et al. Aneta Djanali, the coloured detective born in Gothenburg, is treated sympathetically as she struggles with her identity. Fredrik Halders has mellowed, still a hotheaded racist but proving to be a good father to his motherless children, and risking his life for his coloured colleague, whom he hopes to marry.
The language is liberally supplied with English phrases and often whole sentences. This device succeeds in capturing the atmosphere when Winter converses with Scots, but it creeps into the Gothenburg scenes too. Swedish purists may object, but it should at least make the English translator’s task easier!
Also by Åke Edwardson
Other reviews by Irene Scobbie
- Elisabeth Åsbrink, Orden som formade Sverige (The Words that Formed Sweden). Reviewed in SBR 2019:12.
- Carola Hansson, Masja (Masha). Reviewed in SBR 2016:1.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Om skrivandets sinne (The Sensibility of Writing). Reviewed in SBR 2015:2.
- Peter Sandström, Till dig som saknas (To You Who are Missed). Reviewed in SBR 2013:S.
- Maria Lang, Farligt att förtära (Harmful if Eaten). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Maria Lang, Inte flera mord! (No More Murders!). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Maria Lang, Mördaren ljuger inte ensam (The Murderer Doesn't Lie Alone). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Ann-Marie Åsheden, Förbannelsen. Hans Holmérs öde (The Curse. Hans Holmér’s Fate). Reviewed in SBR 2013:1.
- Torsten Pettersson, Göm mig i ditt hjärta (Conceal Me in Your Heart). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- Torsten Pettersson, Ge mig dina ögon (Give Me Your Eyes). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Hitta hem (Finding the Way Home). Reviewed in SBR 2010:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Den sista vintern (The Final Winter). Reviewed in SBR 2009:1.
- P.C. Jersild, Medicinska memoarer (Medical Memories). Reviewed in SBR 2007:2.
- Åsa Larsson, Svart stig (The Black Path). Reviewed in SBR 2007:1.
- Sara Stridsberg, Drömfakulteten (The Dream Faculty). Reviewed in SBR 2006:2.
- Per Svensson, Han som aldrig fick bli kung. Berättelsen om Carl XVI Gustafs pappa (He Who Could Never Be King. The Story of Carl XVI's Father). Reviewed in SBR 2006:2.
- Carola Hansson, Mästarens Dröm (The Master's Dream). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Rum nummer 10 (Room No. 10). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Kjell Eriksson, Nattens grymma stjärnor (Night's Cruel Stars). Reviewed in SBR 2005:1.
- Maria Gustafsson, Den vidunderliga utsikten (The Amazing View). Reviewed in SBR 2004:2.
- Åsa Larsson, Det blod som spillts (The Blood That Was Shed). Reviewed in SBR 2004:2.
- Åsa Larsson, Solstorm (Sunstorm). Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Elin Wägner, Stockholm Stories. Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Till Mervas (To Mervas). Reviewed in SBR 2003:1.
- Eva Mattson, Tala efter pipet (Speak after the Tone). Reviewed in SBR 2002:2.
- Jan Guillou, Arvet efter Arn (Arns Heritage). Reviewed in SBR 2002:1.
- Maja Lundgren, Pompeji (Pompeii). Reviewed in SBR 2001:2.
- Carola Hansson, Den älskvärde (A Complaisant Man). Reviewed in SBR 2001:1.
- Jan Guillou, Riket vid vägens slut (The Kingdom at the End of the Road). Reviewed in SBR 2000:2.
- Stewe Claeson, Stämma i havet (Voice in the Sea). Reviewed in SBR 2000:1.
- George C Schoolfield, A History of Finland's Literature. Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Anders Sundelin, Fallet Wennerström (The Wennerström Case). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Kerstin Ekman, Häxringarna (Witches' Rings). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Inger Frimansson, Mannen med oxhjärtet (The Man with the Enlarged Heart). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Jan Guillou, Tempelriddaren (The Knight Templar). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Elisabet Larsson, Intrång (Intrusion). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Jan Guillou, Vägen till Jerusalem (The Path to Jerusalem). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Malin Lindroth, Vaka natt (Nightwatch). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Rop från långt avstånd (Far Distant Cries). Reviewed in SBR 1998:2.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Hohaj. Reviewed in SBR 1998:1.
- Kjell Johansson, Huset vid Flon (The House beside Flon). Reviewed in SBR 1998:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Dans med en ängel (Dancing with an Angel). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Carl-Henning Wijkmark, Du som ej finns (You Who Do Not Exist). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Stefan Andhé, En vind genom gräset (A Breeze through the Grass). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Magnus Florin, Marianne Steinsaphir and Margareta Sörenson, Literature in Sweden. Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Ingmar Bergman, Enskilda samtal (Private Conversations). Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- Göran Tunström, Juloratoriet (The Christmas Oratory). Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- G Anderman and C Banér (eds), Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the British Association of Scandinavian Studies. Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- Helena Forsås-Scott, Swedish Women's Writing 1850-1995. Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- Wilhelm Wachtmeister, Som jag såg det. Händelser och människor på världscenen (As I Saw It. People and Events on the World Stage). Reviewed in SBR 1996:2.
- Sten Andersson, Aktörerna (The Actors). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Hans Holmér, Blindträff (Blind Date or Blind Hit). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Leif Silbersky and Olov Svedelid, Den stora tystnaden (The Great Silence). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- N Bodell, L Kasvi & B Lidén, Estonia. Berättelsen om en tragedi (The "Estonia". The Story of a Tragedy). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Frederika Bremer, Familjen H*** (The Colonel's Family). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Jean Bolinder, Fjärilseffekten (The Butterfly Effect). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Pernilla Glaser, Robson. Reviewed in SBR 1995:2.
Other reviews in SBR 2003:1
- Gerda Antti, Livet skriver kapitel (Life Writes its Chapters). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Majgull Axelsson, En stad av slott (A City of Castles). Reviewed by Linda Schenck.
- Ernst Brunner, Fukta din aska. C M Bellmans liv från början till slut (Moisten Your Mortal Ashes. C M Bellman's Life from Beginning to End). Reviewed by Birgitta Thompson.
- Stewe Claeson, Rönndruvan glöder (The Rowan's Cluster Glows). Reviewed by Charles Harrison-Wallace.
- Stig Claesson, Efter oss syndafloden (Après nous le déluge). Reviewed by Henning Koch.
- Anna Ehn, Man ska vara tyst när man önskar (Make a Silent Wish). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Per Gunnar Evander, Plötsligt medan dimman lättar (Suddenly While the Mist is Lifting). Reviewed by Rick McGregor.
- Theodor Kallifatides, Den sjätte pasageraren (The Sixth Passenger). Reviewed by Peter Linton.
- Maaret Koskinen, I begynnelsen var ordet: Ingmar Bergman och hans tidiga författarskap (In the Beginning Was the Word: Ingmar Bergman and his early writings). Reviewed by Annika Lindskog.
- Björn Larsson, Den sanna berättelsen om Inga Andersson (The True Story of Inga Andersson). Reviewed by Tom Geddes.
- Ulla-Lena Lundberg, Marsipansoldaten (The Marzipan Soldier). Reviewed by Silvester Mazzarella.
- Henning Mankell, Innan frosten (Before the Frost). Reviewed by Laurie Thompson.
- Jan Myrdal, Gubbsjuka. Reviewed by Eivor Martinus.
- Cilla Neumann, Dem oss skyldiga äro (Those Who Trespass Against Us). Reviewed by Linda Schenck.
- Håkan Nesser, Kära Agnes! (Dear Agnes!). Reviewed by Stig Olsson.
- Johanna Nilsson, Rebell med frusna fötter (Rebel With Frozen Feet). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Till Mervas (To Mervas). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie.
- Niklas Rådström, Kvartett (Quartet). Reviewed by Anne Born.
- Friedrich Strindberg, Under jorden i Berlin (Underground in Berlin). Reviewed by Eivor Martinus.
- Jerker Virdborg, Svart krabba (Black Crab). Reviewed by Stig Olsson.
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