Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
Apr 3rd, 2020, 11:00 am

TITLE: The Wolf and the Watchman
AUTHOR: Niklas Natt och Dag
GENRE: Fiction > Mystery/Thriller
PUBLISHED: 10/01/2019
RATING: ★★★★☆

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Description: Sweden, a year after the death of King Gustav III the feelings of the recent French Revolution are arriving at the country with those airs of conspiration and mistrust. In the middle of it all, a mutilated corpse appears in a river and gets discovered by the war veteran, Mickel Cardell. An incorruptible judge, Cecil Winge, will help him to solve the case of who did such monstrosity to a human being and why. From that point on other characters will join in the plot bringing more darkness and mystery and unfortunately time keeps ticking. Mr. Winge suffers from tuberculosis, the monarchy is very unstable and the atmosphere within the police force is not very relatable neither. Cardell and Winge will face corruption to the highest levels in order to solve this murder and all this in a society with a clear contrast between opulence and misery. Who will survive and what would they have to do to make it through?

Review: Looking for a new book to read I quickly checked the top sales of the month on some virtual bookshops and this one caught my eye. After falling in love with the graphic design of its cover (I know… do not judge a book by its cover but look at it! Special mention to the Russian one) and getting hooked by the mysterious plot detailed in the description I gave it a go.

At first, I really enjoyed the detective-case setting, the main characters' personal circumstances and the fact that they came from all layers of society… it looked really promising but I must warn you. It gets pretty gory at some stages (mutilated corpses, a nasty secret society with some more than questionable practices, extreme poverty…). But do not despair, this is a book worth reading. I must confess that at some point I almost quit; however, in the end, I was really happy with my decision of carrying on a bit further each day to finally find out some sense in all these miseries, in a fictitious but relatable world.

Regarding the setting, in the first pages of this passionate historical thriller, you will find a period map of the area where the story takes place and that I found really helpful especially if you are not familiar with this country as it was my case. The capital of Sweden back in the day was an interesting location to set the novel I must say. A dark Stockholm that the reader gets wrapped up into.

The author walks you through the misfortunes of each relevant character involved in the plot and even in the last chapters you get new characters joining in the story. The book is sectioned into their different perspectives and towards the end, they get intertwined to finally make sense of every character’s actions. It is nice to read how the characters are described in a language that even while simple, direct and blunt can make you feel sympathy for the people involved in these dark times:
Cardell climbs down Miller’s Hill and spits a brown slug of tobacco into the gutter. He is as clean as he has been able to make himself at a friend’s well and has changed into a borrowed shirt.

Flawed heroes far from that stereotypical fake perfection. Moreover, some of the dialogues are pretty current nowadays as for example:
The purpose of the workhouse is to teach her to spin wool and to imprint on her the city’s striving towards efficiency and productivity. But more than anything else, she is taught the art of hatred.

Or quite profound and hopeful:
... this is how the world should function; rational and comprehensible, where every part has its given place and the effect of its trajectory can be precisely determined.

The plot is also really appealing. A savage murderer on the loose, relatable characters with varied and intense backgrounds (noble people, a war veteran, an incorruptible lawyer, a gravedigger, a farmer looking for a better future or a strong and resilient feminine character called Anna Stina (who is my new heroine) and life stories connected to this riddle. To sum up, a bunch of mysteries to be solved, and that is the key. Will the mysteries get finally solved? What kind of answers will the reader get in such a dark atmosphere? Who will make it to the very end? And the most interesting questions in my opinion: Can evilness be justified in some cases? Who are the real victims?

I must insist. You have to read The Wolf and the Watchman till the very end to find all the answers and perhaps it will make you ask yourself more interesting questions on people’s real nature.
Apr 3rd, 2020, 11:00 am
Apr 17th, 2020, 12:53 pm
Might be interesting to know, since this is a historical novel, that Natt och Dag literally means Night and Day (If you don't speak Swedish and already know), and is the oldest still existing noble family in Sweden!
Apr 17th, 2020, 12:53 pm