The Wolf and the Watchman

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

To say I liked or enjoyed this seems wrong. It is graphic and brutal in its depravity. It is also well-written and compelling. Many, many times I wanted to bail because of the explicit violence, but I needed to know what happened. This is an impressive debut, but I don’t think I could stomach another book by this author.
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DEEP and DARK -  In 18th century Stockholm. 

First up we have Jean Michael Cardell, a disabled veteran with a passion for strong drink and bar brawls....a former night watchman with haunted memories of war.

Then Cecil Winge enters the picture, lawyer turned consulting detective for Stockholm police, a notably skilled young man living on borrowed time.....and together these two troubled men search the DARK and dangerous city streets for a ruthless monster who tortures and maims before he kills. 

Kristofer Blix also plays a significant roll in the storyline as a young & bright, but struggling and tormented soul who gets a rude awakening of how he must pay the piper for past mistakes.....and sohopes to atone for his sins.

And then there's the falsely accused Anna Stina who takes us to the tortuous workhouses of the time where monstrous types brutalize the innocent. 

This is just a sampling of what is to come in THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN....only some of the characters....many of whom are greedy, sadistic and just plain evil.  The story is complex, at times bloody gruesome and unsettling, but a mystery that is both cleverly plotted and assures the reader they would NOT want to live during his post war torn time in history.   

Many pieces to this intricate puzzle, and very DARK, but oh what a debut!

***Arc provided by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
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!8th century dark and gruesome thriller set in Sweden. This book is brilliantly written and keeps you enthralled until the last page.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Atria books for the review copy.  

Although this novel started out a bit slowly, it quickly pulled me in with the view of 18th century Sweden and the cast of characters. The different threads of the main characters are deftly woven together into one entertaining, intricate tale.

I hope to see much more from Niklas Natt och Dag.
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This book begins with a mutilated body, so it is not for the faint of heart. It takes place in Stokholm in 1793 and centers around two men. Mickel Cardell is a watchman, crippled from the war. He has a wooden arm that he often uses as a secret weapon when he gets into scraps. He is the unfortunate soul that fishes the dead body from the water and feels compelled to ensure the body is seen properly to the grave. Cecil Winge is a consulting detective for the local police and is dying from consumption. He agrees to look into the death of the mutilated body and joins forces with Mickel Cardell.
This was SUCH an interesting book! Definitely not the type of thriller I’m used to. It is dark and gritty, brutal and completely fascinating. I found myself reminded a bit of Sherlock Homes and Watson, though this story is much darker than any Holmes story I remember. If you are a historical fiction fan, I definitely recommend picking this one up!

Thank you so much to Atria books for sending me a copy of this book!
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An ARC of this book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book is really good and I hated it. That's twice this year that a book has left me completely baffled about my opinion (the first was My Sister, the Serial Killer).

Anna Stina is a secondary character but the only one I felt even the slightest emotion about and she gets put through the ringer, geez. Cardell becomes likable toward the end but that's only after many chapters where he serves as nothing but a cudgel. Winge is a cardboard cutout of a person that manages to deliver some dry one-liners that serve as the only humor in the book (but they're really funny in context! What the heck!). The villain has the most cliched and boring motive that absolutely does not live up to the rollercoaster ride required to reach it.

I haven't read a book with this much filthy, stinking atmosphere since See What I Have Done. That book made a horrible setting out of one house. The Wolf and the Watchman takes the entire city of Stockholm and makes it absolutely repulsive. I'm sure it was in the 1790's but the author really wants to rub the gory details in your face.

SPEAKING OF THE GORY DETAILS, ughhhhh. I'm a fairly seasoned horror reader and this grossed me out. I had to skim some of the more gruesome parts (there are a lot of gruesome parts). It was a bit much to be honest but I guess that's what some people are here for.

I would recommend this book to people who like torture porn flicks but are pretentious enough to refer to them as "films".
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The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag is an award winning historical-fiction book taking place in Stockholm, Sweden during the 18th Century. Mr Natt och Dag is a member of the oldest surviving noble family in Sweden, this is his first book.

The first thing that struck me while reading The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag is how atmospheric and dark the story is, brutal as well. I would imagine it defines the times, after all the French Revolution is in its height, every monarch in Europe is shaking on their throne and is using every weapon in their arsenal to keep down the masses.

The horror in this book has nothing to do with imaginary monsters, but with the horror of what humans are able to do to one another. It is fascinating, however, that despite the difficulties of living in the 18th Century, the day-to-day issues that occupy people are the same as they are today. Who is in love? How do I get better at what I do? Why don’t I get appreciated? Etc.
I do believe, though, that society has changed for the better.

I’m not a believer in good and evil as absolutes, good people can do horrible things which, for me, is truly horrifying. For example: How can one rationally explain genocide?
This book seems to thrive on the moral ambiguity of its characters, which makes it a fascinating and exciting read.

This book is dark, if I had to categorize it I would under historical-fiction / noir genre. They cynicism is spilling off the page, the characters are in a constant state of fatalism, but best of all there is moral ambiguity on every page.
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This book was written well, well thought out and executed in a creative way, but if I’m honest it was just to dark for my tastes, In fact it’s what I would consider  a man book. Because of this  opinion I had my husband read it and he loved it,.  Mike considered it the best book he’s read this year. 
Not all good books are a fit for each of us but I will be recommending this one to all men readers, and women who are into  dark and manly accounts
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This is a story so chock full of emotionally compelling goodness that one is never quite sure where to focus one's attention.
Though this book is a work of fiction. It is quite clear that it functions also as a commentary on life and society in this region of Sweden, at this time.
The suffering, the apathy, the injustice.

A theme echoed through the losses of both leading men Winge and Cardell.
Winge with the loss of his future due to consumption.
Cardell with the loss of his arm and sanity to the war.
This book is in part a mystery. However, the social drama is by far the most compelling aspects of the read.
The sheer amounts of apathy to the plight of both death and suffering that pervades the social strata here. Nothing short of mind-boggling.
Even in the face of what is clearly a most horrendous torture and murder.

The supporting characters that the two meet in their efforts to find justice for the most unfortunate of souls.
And the way that other stories cause the first to morph and grow.
Gives readers a very eye-opening understanding of the dynamics of the often futile struggle between those with power. However minuscule the amount, and those they choose to exploit.
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I found The Wolf and the Watchman to be extremely well written, with characters that linger in the mind long after closing the book on the last page. What seems to start with a strange, but intriguing murder mystery evolves into a deep, dark look into humanity itself. There is indeed a murder to be solved, but the road to solving it is a long, winding and often horrifying one. 

Cardell is an interesting and endearing character. A huge, intimidating ex-soldier who is a sometimes-watchman and general muscle for establishments with that kind of need. His is haunted by his military service and his perceived failings. His sense of justice and attempts to correct his past wrongs make him a perfect companion to Winge who hasn't the physical strength of Cardell, but has the intellectual prowess to solve most any crime. I found this pair to be the best crime solving duo I've encountered in literature to date. 

Each character in the novel has a fascinating and often heartbreaking and/or terrifying backstory. There is not a dull moment in the entire book. Each strand of this multi-layered story pulls the reader deeper into the dark, dazzling and violent mystery taking place in 1793 Stockholm. Often it seems like Cardell and Winge are the only people striving for justice in a violently mad world. The novel is beautiful and horrifying at the same time. I was absolutely enthralled and could barely put the book down. Highly recommended.
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Earlier this year I read The Alienist, yes I know I’m about a million years late to the party for The Alienist. In short, I loved The Alienist and I found that it was a completely different and unique story and prose.

Though I had to take it in small doses, I still loved it and thought that it will forever stand out as an excellent historic thriller not only for the time when it was written, but that it has a lasting appeal. So when this book came across my desk for review and was marketed to fans of The Alienist, I couldn’t say no.

That’s a tall order to fill for me, so I was eager to see if this book was going to live up to the hype.


It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era (summary from Goodreads).


Sometimes when people compare newer books to older classics, I hesitate because it’s often not the case. However, in this case, this book was worthy of the comparison to The Alienist. I can see why this book was likened to that cult classic.

It was a graphic, gruesome, and terrifying read. Wolf and the Watchman had a very gritty and dark feel to it and I was surprised that I actually found it more gruesome than The Alienist (how is that possible you ask? Read the books and find out!). I don’t mind gore or exceptionally dark/gritty plots and mysteries, however I can only read it in a small dosing and in this case, it slowed this novel down for me.

I don’t know if this is going to be a book that will appeal to a wide audience. This book is going to appeal to fans of The Alienist to be sure, and others who love very graphic murder novels, but I think some readers might be put off with the gore aspect.

The author clearly loves this time period. He wrote with such authority on the living conditions and the time period that one could easily feel like they were there. I thought it added a lot fo the authenticity of the story but again I think some readers might find the descriptions uncomfortable or off-putting. I know nothing about Sweden during this time, but the author made it come alive, unflattering though the images may be, it came alive nevertheless.

So where does that leave me with this book? I found it a little slow and overwritten at some points, but overall I thought it was good. I could only read it in small doses so it did read slower for me. At the end I went with 3 stars. It was good and worthy of The Alienist comparison, but I just couldn’t get past the level of despair and gore.

Book Info and Rating

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Atria Books (first published September 2017)
ISBN 1501196774 (ISBN13: 9781501196775)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Atria, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: historical fiction, thriller
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Atmospheric and fascinating, this book Swedish author Niklas Natt och Dag is set on the Southern Isle of Sweden in the late 1700's. Both a fascinating look at Sweden in this period of time and a detailed study of how a murder was investigated, this book is thoughtful study that will leave readers of historical fiction captivated.
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From my blog: Always With a Book:

Last year, I watched the TV mini-series The Alienist and loved it - and it happens to be one of my husband's all-time favorite books...he owns THREE copies of the book, including a first edition! I still need to read the actual book, but when I saw that this book, THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN was being compared to The Alienist, I knew I wanted to give it a go - a historical fiction crime thriller - sounds right up my alley!

This is a dark, gritty, macabre read...not sure what that says about me as a reader, but I was fascinated with the story. It is a little slow going and it does take a while to get into the rhythm of the story, but I tell you, I found myself captivated. It's certainly not a fast, thrilling read - this is definitely a different kind of absorbing read, yet one that still had me invested in what was going on.

I will say this is not a book for everyone - it's violent, at times graphic, in nature. But if you can get past that, it really is quite an intricately woven tale that will take you down a path in history you probably know nothing about. It takes us into the underbelly of Stockholm in the late 1700s and believe me, it's not really a time you would want to live. What kept me going was the compelling descriptions that we get and the characters we meet. There are a few mysteries and of course I needed them to be solved! I needed to know how everything tied together.

The characters in this book are so well-drawn. We get their full back story so that they have depth and complexity. This draws you in as much as the brilliant descriptions of the setting. You really get a sense of what Stockholm was like back in the 1790s - it comes alive with the author's writing. There is such a sharp contrast between the haves and the have-nots and this is clearly due to the writer's talent.

This was quite a compelling read and one that is not soon to be forgotten. I will absolutely be keeping an eye out for what comes next from this author...his writing is quite remarkable.
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MY REVIEW- So when I was approached by Atria, I was told that THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN was “Chilling and thought-provoking. Relentless, well-written, and nearly impossible to put down.”  and I stand by that statement as well. I am not going to lie, I initially felt like this book would be out of comfort zone, but after reading it, I am so glad that I did.

This was some of the most descriptive writing that I have ever read. The environment was so rich and addictive, when it came time to having to put the book down, I had to fight myself every night. It was so detailed that I felt I was living inside this story. I do want to add, this book is dark, and very ominous. I think some readers may find some of the topics off-putting, in that same breath, other readers are going to love it.

Also, I want to add, that the pacing is a bit different, with it being a Nordic Noir, it reads different than a lot of Thrillers on the market. It’s a much slower pace, and does tend to take a little while to really be grasped by the story. So, if you’re in for a page turning, fast paced, roller coaster type of read, this isn’t going to be what you’re looking for.
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Dark and gruesome but a very well told story that I enjoyed reading. More than just a thriller this is crime fiction as well, which I love. I love that is is set in the 1700s , this very detailed book will keep you up late reading into the night.
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This book is not for the faint of heart and so I'll offer a disclosure as you would get before a particularly intense television show: "Contains graphic violence, coarse language, and mature subject matter. Reader discretion is advised." 

It is a gritty historical mystery that digs deep into the seedy underbelly of Stockholm in the late 1700s. The author did a remarkable job of rendering my fantasies of historical living to smithereens - this is not your ballgowns and debutantes class of historical fiction.

While I found some of the translation stilted, overall I was gripped by the entire tale start to finish (even though I felt like I needed a bath when I was done.) Intense and remarkably descriptive, I could see and smell everything presented on the page. I was at once repulsed and intrigued. The chapters were rife with the grisly descent of human nature at its most destitute while corruption, poverty, and illicit subterfuge were threaded deep within. 

I wouldn't say it's a tale for every reader and I wouldn't say it was a book I loved, but it was attention-grabbing, and so well done. 

I was provided with a copy of this title to review via Netgalley with thanks to the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Not for the faint-hearted, this book rocks!  I loved the story, the characters and the sense of place.  The author pulls no punches to tell his twisted story.  I found the author's sense of place particularly fascinating, learning many things about Sweden in the early 1790's.  Both a history lesson and a terrific literary mystery, this will satisfy my customers who enjoy Thomas Harris and Umberto Eco.
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This is a pretty dark and seedy book and while I can see some people having some flinches and troubles with certain parts, I absolutely found those to be some of my favorite parts. This is a very atmospheric reads but along the lines of The Alienist , I think I find these better suited on the screen. 

I had some issues with the translation and with the flow of conversation. It seemed to take a lot of time to get into the nitty gritty and I much prefer a faster pace. However... I absolutely was enthralled with the story line. I think just for me, as a reader, these are the types of reads I much prefer to see on film. There's a special cadence and flow to these types of reads that I just can't seem to get into the rhythm of. Yet, I just can't look away either. 

Absolutely not a fun read but not all of them need to be - especially in this type of nordic noir, historical fiction thriller.
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•	Title: The Wolf and The Watchman Alt. Title 1793
•	Author: Niklas Natt och Dag
•	Series: Stand-Alone
•	Pages: 384
•	Genre: Historical Fiction/ Mystery/ Thriller
•	Rating Out of 5 Stars: 3
My Thoughts: 
   The Wolf and the Watchmen is a graphic, arresting and grizzly mashup of Sherlock Holmes, the Alienist and Perfume. 
    The mystery and approach to the situation within the dark atmosphere really draws you in. I really enjoyed the writing, even as hard hitting as it was. Our author does not shy away from graphic details. If you are the squeamish type please bear in mind there is lots of descriptive scenes involving certain depraved natures, dissection and torture. The book itself is broken in a few parts following a different narrative which can come across rather abrupt. You really get into the mood of one arc then are thrown into another. Over all we follow four characters story arcs: Cardell and Winge, Anna Stina and Kristofer Blix
     Cardell and Winge take up much of the story arc. This pair very much gave me the impression of a Sherlock and Watson duo in the manner they behaved and developed through the book. While they rely on each other it was nice to see them get equal measure in the tasks they took on and clues they pieced together.
       Anna Stina has, I feel, has the next largest story arc. The whole in and of itself was well done. However, you could have completely taken her narrative out of the book without having to make to many major edits with the other two. I felt that it added absolutely nothing to the overall story. It was her narrative that brought down a four to 4.5-star rating down to a 3 for me. 
        Kristofer has the biggest tie in with what is going on in the main plot. I wish his backstory had not taken place so late in the book. I’m not going to go into much with him as there are lots of spoilers involved there.

	This started off so strong. It’s not that I’m disappointed in the book but it really lost its momentum with the Anna Stina focus. If you take that out it was fantastic. Absolutely disturbing, but a great read. I still recommend it, especially if you are into the macabre.
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This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and WOW! It did not disappoint. This book kinda of has a Sherlock Holmes vibe but is completely its own! This is one of the most messed up/brutal crime books I've read and I kind of want to cry with that ending... I 100% recommend this book and I can see it possibly being my favorite of the year and it's only March!
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