Sunday Fiction Pick: The Wolf and the Watchman

Here’s a thrilling new Nordic noir for fans of the trope and, particularly, if you enjoy Steig Larsson’s Millennium series.

In true Nordic Noir style, period Sweden is a dark and cruel place. Niklas Natt och Dag’s debut contribution is no exception and, if it’s possible, pushes the envelope even further with his study of the class divide. The translation by Ebba Segerberg is true to the original text, passing on Natt och Dag’s intricate prose as his protagonist pieces the grim facts together over four parts that, while potentially risky from a narrative point of view, work beautifully in tandem to release little clues to detective and reader; and to create a well-paced crime thriller circa the eighteenth century.

And good news! Rumour has it that if you really enjoy this title, it is the first of a trilogy! It has found its way near the top of our reading piles…

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Fun fact: Natt och Dag translates to “night or day” which we find is rather fitting.

the wolf and the watchman – Niklas Natt och Dag

The year is 1793, Stockholm. King Gustav of Sweden has been assassinated, years of foreign wars have emptied the treasuries, and the realm is governed by a self-interested elite, leaving its citizens to suffer. On the streets, malcontent and paranoia abound.

A body is found in the city's swamp by a watchman, Mickel Cardell, and the case is handed over to investigator Cecil Winge, who is dying of consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell become embroiled in a brutal world of guttersnipes and thieves, mercenaries and madams, and one death will expose a city rotten with corruption beneath its powdered and painted veneer.

A well-depicted historical murder mystery filled with cruelty as well as warmth and humanity.
— Best Debut, Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' Award 2017
This is a thrilling, unnerving, clever and beautiful story. Reading it is like giving a little gift to oneself.
— Fredrik Backman