Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cell 8 - Roslund & Hellstrom


Swedes Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom are, respectively, a TV journalist and an ex-con turned campaigner for crime prevention through rehabilitation.  They have been writing together since 2004.  Cell 8 is the third of their seven novels - the latest. Two Soldiers, was published in Sweden in 2012.

Ostensibly it is Nordic Noir.  That is doubtless why it was translated into English.  But it is more than simple crime fiction.  There is a theme here - the moral dilemma of the death penalty.  The way this is rolled out is sheer brilliance.  It would be giving too much away to say any more than Detective Superintendent Ewert Grens gets one hell of a surprise when he finds out who the cruise ship singer arrested for kicking a drunk in the face in Stockholm really is.

Grens is theoretically Roslund and Hellstrom's 'hero', a sixtyish untamed bear who left his personal life behind circa 1969.  In practice they deploy a battalion of fully-realised characters all of whom contribute to the narrative.  My only criticism is that the only characters without back-stories are women, and the women are important in this story.

Roslund and Hellstrom use short, punchy chapters subdivided into even shorter sections, many no more than a single paragraph.  Not normally my taste but it works very well here, especially as the tension builds towards the end and people on opposite sides of the Atlantic are all focused on one climactic event.

I was impressed and am on the lookout for more.  Roslund & Hellstrom - a welcome addition to the ever-growing catalogue of Nordic crime writers and surely the next big thing on Swedish TV.

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