A great lumbering beast of a book, this one failed to grab me and – unusually – I bailed out after the first instalment (it’s effectively a trilogy in one publication). I found it long-winded, fragmented and unrewarding, veering between explicitly described violence (which I don’t mind so much if it serves a purpose) and banal domestic disputes (which don’t add tension for me: they just bore me rigid).
The majority of the opening episode concentrates on the disintegrating and dismal domestic situation of the utterly ineffective investigating officer. There’s a nice bit of role reversal, in which she resents her spouse who takes no financial responsibility, doesn’t appear to pull his weight and contributes little to the family – but their stagnant, fractious relationship doesn’t make for great reading.
Nor is she an inspirational police investigator. When she’s fails to make any headway, she keeps pestering her boss to target potential suspects without much in the way of actual evidence. Meanwhile the killer is merrily murdering children at a fearsome pace. Even if they are the un-named underclass of unregistered migrants, it seems to stretch credibility to suggest that the Swedish police wouldn’t bother to carry out extensive investigations. Then there’s the psychoanalyst who is as mucked-up as most of her patients…
I kept waiting for it to get gritty and gripping, but I waited in vain. I don’t mind the fragmented personality / deliberately dislocated form of storytelling, but the investigating officer was Just A Drag. Three or four dead bodies, and the police investigation went nowhere, did nothing. That might be true to life but it was pretty tedious reading.
What a shame – especially as my paperback is a really handsome edition with blue-edged pages. I really wanted to revel in this, but couldn’t.
This felt a lot like the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books to me; unnecessarily drawn out and not particularly well written. But if that type of Scandi crime floats your boat then 750 pages of Erik Axl Sund await you…
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sun is available at Amazon