FORECAST FRIDAY: CRY WOLF by Hans Rosenfeldt (Harper Collins)
Fans of dark Nordic crime will enjoy this gritty tale of drug dealers, minor crooks, the Russian mafia and a single-minded female assassin, set on the border between northern Sweden and Finland.
Cry Wolf is written by the creator of the award winning television shows The Bridge and Marcella, and one half of the successful Swedish crime writing duo Hjorth and Rosenfeldt, Hans Rosenfeldt.
The story opens with the sad death of a wolf from poisoning, but soon branches out into human murders when a drug exchange goes wrong. The money and the drugs disappear, and the Russian end of the deal sends a very capable female fixer to find both and extract revenge on those responsible. The local police in the relatively small town of Haparanda, where the drugs and the money end up, are initially oblivious to the killings until human remains are found in the body of a dead wolf. Very quickly things ramp up and Swedish Detective Hannah Wester finds herself involved in a complex and bloody investigation.
Cry Wolf is not a mystery as such, rather it is a fast paced journey through the underbelly of a small Swedish town. Characters come and go, and the bodies quickly mount up as Hannah and her colleagues try to keep pace with the Russian assassin known as Katja. The characterisations are finely wrought, especially the flawed and unhappy Hannah, and Rosenfeldt generally handles his large cast of characters, and frequently shifting point of view, well. Insights are provided into many of the characters’ personal and professional lives, and most of them come with interesting backstories. Keeping track of all the characters initially requires some effort, but this becomes easier as the book progresses and their numbers decline.
Rosenfeldt’s experience as a screenwriter comes through in the book’s episodic style, and there are enough twists and shocks to keep it interesting. The pacing is good and the story builds to a bloody and unexpected conclusion. Interspersed between the violence and the personal problems, are some vivid descriptions of northern Sweden and Rosenfeldt effectively captures the feel of his unfamiliar location. Even the city itself emerges as character, and descriptive interludes capture the mood of the town and give some details on its history. It is a fascinating and interesting device.
In some ways Cry Wolf reminded me of Elmore Leonard’s early novels, with its focus on the crooks and the wheeling and dealing, and the far from perfect police in the background. It does, however, lack Leonard’s witty dialogue and humour, and is far darker in tone.
It took me a little while to get used to the style and characters, but as the story progressed I quite enjoyed it and the ending was extremely exciting and unexpected. It also seemed to be smoothly translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel.
Four stars out of five!
Cry Wolf will be released in Australia and the United Kingdom by Harper Collins on 5 January 2022.