Scandinavian Literature in Translation || Littérature scandinave en traduction

Leif Gustav Willy Persson : La nuit du 28 février

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Maintenant disponible en format poche :

La nuit du 28 février
Leif Gustav Willy Persson
Le livre de poche, « Thrillers »
ISBN 978-2-253-11631-8
9 mars 2007
16,95 $ au Canada


Premier volet de la trilogie « La chute de l’état providence »

Un vendredi soir de novembre, un obscur journaliste américain tombe par la fenêtre du quinzième étage du foyer d’étudiants de Stockholm dans lequel il avait loué une chambre.

Il s’agit à l’évidence d’un suicide, d’autant que le défunt a eu le bon goût de laisser derrière lui un mot d’adieu. Celui-ci est un peu étrange, remarquablement bien écrit étant donné les circonstances, presque poétique: «J’ai passé ma vie entre la nostalgie de l’été et le froid de l’hiver.»

Le dossier aurait dû en toute logique se clore sur ce constat si le commissaire Lars Martin Johansson, de la Brigade criminelle, qualifié par certains de «seul flic suédois honnête», ne s’était pas retrouvé mêlé à l’enquête d’une façon aussi inexplicable qu’inattendue.

Et ce qui débute sous les apparences d’une affaire banale se révèle bientôt être un crime hors du commun…

My review on LibraryThing:

Complex political thriller exposing widespread incompetence and corruption in the Swedish police following the death of an obscure American journalist in Stockholm, in the months leading up to the 1986 assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme, two events seemingly related to others dating back to the very beginning of the Cold War.

Although the story is largely told from the point of view of Lars Martin Johansson of the Rikskriminalpolisen (‘the only honest cop in all of Sweden’), Persson frequently adopts the point of view of many of the other characters as well, moving back and forth in the chronology of events as he does so in a manner that is a bit confusing at first, as you try to keep straight in your head the role and position of each of the police officers involved (with their exotic Swedish names and nicknames and all), but it works, and one’s patience and perseverance are richly rewarded.

The 2007 Livre de poche reissue that I read comes in at 730 pages, and it has to be said that some of the side stories that don’t bring anything to the main intrigue, but merely serve to illustrate the reigning climate of incompetence and corruption in the police, could perhaps have been cut. At the same time, part of what makes this novel so enjoyable is the complexity of Persson’s (imaginary?) world, and the detailed manner in which it is portrayed.

This is also a very Swedish novel, with many cultural and historical references that Philippe Bouquet has helpfully clarified with countless footnotes (I’ve never seen so many footnotes in a crime novel!). Fascinating stuff for anyone with an interest in Swedish society and culture that goes beyond its output of excellent crime fiction.

Highly Recommended.

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