The Wolf and the Watchman

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

This was a great read, albeit rather dark and gruesome. It was a complex mystery with interesting characters set in 18th century Sweden.
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Review Copy

The first thing one should note is that this is the Swedish to English translation. Things are lost in translation such as meaning, form, context, rhythm. That made it very difficult to get into this historical thriller. And yet I wanted to. 

The story, set in Stockholm in 1793, centers around a horribly mutilated man's body found floating in a garbage-filled river. Using both current events and various past events, the author ties together the lives of the various characters to the body.

Be prepared to deal with words, concepts, relationships, and morals outside modern American culture. The author does not try to adapt his story to fit the non-Swedish reader, rather the reader must adapt. In the end, I found this to be refreshing and educational.

The story is not for the faint-of-heart, nor the prudish among us. Violence, abuse, deviant sexual activity, and associated language abound.
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The Wolf and the Watchman is a great Swedish historical crime thriller with a page-turning plot and well constructed characters.
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Let me start off by saying this: The Wolf and the Watchman is a dark tale and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Graphic and grueseome scenes aside, this beguiling and gripping tale had me holding on to every word. 

The prologue sets its tone with a quote from Thomas Thorild (1793) "Guile begets guile, violence begets violence."

The year - 1793, place - Stockholm, Sweden, one year or so after the murder of King Gustav III and is now ruled by the much-feared oppressor, Gustaf Adolf Reuterholm. Everyone is operating with their own agenda in mind. It was a world and time where only the fittest survive. 

Meet 4 main characters: Mickel Cardwell, Cecil Winge, Kristofer Blix and Anna-Stina, whose goals for survival made their paths crossed and lives changed. A mission brought these two characters of opposite personalities - Cardell and Winge - together. They were to find the killer of a mutilated body Cardell found in a lake. 

Their quest brought them to Blix, a 17-yo from Stockholm whose adventurous and ambitious self got himself buried deep in debts, which later had to be paid off by serving a mad master's inhumane, horrendous request. Blix and Anna's paths crossed when Anna, out of kindness, offered Blix the help he needed and in return he saved her life. 

Its rich, layered characters and atmospheric setting took me deep into the dark alleys, passageways and homes of the deprived, poor, hunted, punished and forgotten, making this experience unforgettable. 

This tale blurred the lines of good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate. Makes one question, is it right for us to play God when things need to be righted? Or let life take its course? Is there humanity in this dog-eat-dog world? Or is every man for himself? 

This novel is stunning for a debut and brilliant on many levels. Looking forward to reading more from the author.

Thank you Netgalley and Atria Books for providing me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A full review will be posted on my blog and Goodreads, and shared on Twitter and Litsy closer to publication day.
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