Review: The Wolf and the Watchman, Niklas Natt och Dag

Rating: 3 out of 5

The best part of this historical crime puzzle was the setting: late 18th century Stockholm. Many of the ancillary clues helped paint a picture of what Sweden in 1793 would have looked like, and it was a healthy change from the Medieval English knight scenario that is so favoured by most Anglosphere writers of historical fiction.

Yet, the crime that was the crux of this novel did not make much sense to me. This might just be me—but it all felt random, concocted purposefully in as elaborate a way as possible, as also the later description of the crime proved. Suffice to say, either the crime should have remained unsolved or have had a better motivation.

However, I can say I did enjoy the investigation by Mr’s Winge and Cardell. It was quite interesting to see the devices the author had to conjure up to make something so high-tech in our time work in the 18th century, starting with crime scene investigations and ending with facial recognition.

I was taken aback by the second and third part of the book which replaced the already-familiar crime investigators with new characters. I wasn’t expecting this device, and it took a bit of time to see how these people would fit in. I also don’t think it was a particularly successful except to lengthen the book; a “deus ex machina” device is still that even if it has been explained over the preceding fifty pages.

I’m happy I read it, but it’s not my favourite historical fiction. The Swedish setting was the most interesting part of this for me, while the crime was the least interesting.

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