Fredrik Backman – The Winners

Fredrik Backman – The Winners

A lot of time has passed since the tragic events of Beartown. Maya Andersson and Benji Ovich have left the village to start a new life somewhere else, the rest of the inhabitants has found a way of either forgetting or ignoring. But now they are threatened by a storm and a fateful series of events brings people home, opens up old wounds and creates new ones. Beartown as its rival village of Hed will never be the same again, they all will have changed and one person’s life especially will be determined by the events of only a very short time.

I have read almost all novels by Fredrik Backman and yet, I am overwhelmed each time and even though I am all but prone to extreme emotion, I can’t help crying while reading his stories. From the first two books settled in the Swedish village of Beartown (The Scandal/Beartown and Us against you, I knew what to expect from “The Winners” and was somehow prepared, but nevertheless, the author managed to trigger something in me.

Maybe it is the characters who are the most normal people one can imagine, who have their good and caring sides as well as the others which would much rather be hidden. Maybe it is the setting in an unknown village somewhere in the forest which nobody has ever heard of. It is the maximum of normalcy that we encounter in this trilogy and that makes you feel at home and bond with the characters immediately.

Backman’s masterful foreshadowing gives a glimpse in what is to come, it only hints at the upcoming tragedies and thus raises suspense which keeps you reading on, unable to put the book aside. You know that something really dreadful, horrible is waiting at the end and yet, just like life goes on you continue until you reach that moment where you are hit with a hammer.

I am lacking the words to adequately convey what the novel did to me, to describe the experience of reading and after the last page, of leaving this wonderful story. Backman is an exceptional author and his Beartown series is an exceptional read.

Mads Peder Nordbo – The Girl Without Skin

Mads Peder Nordbo – The Girl Without Skin

Journalist Matthew has left his Danish home after with wife and their unborn daughter died in an accident. In Greenland he tries to make a new start. When an old, in ice conserved body is found, he believes to have found the story of his life: a new iceman just like Ötzi might be the scoop of his career. But it soon turns out that the body isn’t several hundred but only forty years old. His first deception leads him to old Greenland murder cases that were never solved. Four men had been killed and sliced open. When he starts to investigate, he doesn’t know what kind of hornets’ nests he is stirring up with his questions.

At first, “The Girl Without Skin” attracted me since the description sounded like a typical Scandinavian thriller set in the Greenland ice. As it turns out, there is much more to it than just brutal murders that need to be unravelled. Apart from the suspense and the clever story about these long time unsolved cases, it gives insight in a hardly known culture and the way the small community works – which is even worse than any of the violent killings.

I liked how the story slowly unfolds, one thing leads to another and you end up somewhere completely other than expected. All steps are well motivated and the highly complex case is solved satisfactorily. There is just one aspect that was a pity a bit: the protagonists, the Danish journalist, and his Greenlandic female helper resembled by far too much Stieg Larsson’s characters. The fearless investigative reporter who is eagerly ready to risk his life for a story and the inscrutable tattooed woman who is said to be a murderer and who easily hacks into official and highly protected computers – we have read that before. However, the parallels did not diminish any of the story’s appeal and suspense.