The Shadow Woman
Review: Chief Inspector Erik Winter investigates the murder of an unidentified woman, killed elsewhere and moved, the park crime site where she is found marked with a cross-like symbol in red on a nearby tree, in The Shadow Woman, the second mystery in this series by Swedish crime novelist Åke Edwardson (though the fifth to be translated into English).
Winter doesn't have many clues to the identity of the woman. An autopsy reveals she had recently given birth, which begs the question, where is the child? The painted symbol seems too vague to be of much help, possibly the mark of a youth gang or even Satanists who were known to frequent the park where the body was found. And that leads Winter where to begin his investigation: "There's always a meaning behind the choice of a disposal site, even if the murderer himself isn't always aware of it. There's a clue hidden somewhere in his choice. Something made him drive there of all places. Something in his past." The past is where the case eventually leads. Though she had been known under several names, she's identified as Helene Andersén, who, as a four-year-old girl, was seen in the company of a group of people who successfully robbed a bank in Denmark in 1972. Now Winter must make the connection between the past and the present, and determine who murdered Helene and why.
While The Shadow Woman has an intriguing if complicated police procedure-style plot, one that propels the reader forward, it's not an easy book to read. The investigative details sometimes disrupt the pacing of the narrative and there are frequent jumps between the past and the present, often with nothing more than some extra space between paragraphs to indicate the transition. And, as much as the storyline involves the murder investigation, it's also about Erik Winter, the youngest Chief Inspector on the police force. Readers new to the series will have no difficulty getting to know Winter, who seems to struggle balancing his relative youth with his professional responsibilities, but those who may have read earlier translations of the later books in the series may be surprised to discover that the author is still defining the character here; indeed, since it is, chronologically, the second book to be written (in 1998), this development is not unexpected and, in fact, appreciated.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of The Shadow Woman for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Shadow Woman: Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden
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The Shadow Woman by Åke Edwardson — An Erik Winter Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2010
List Price: $15.00