Anders Roslund & Börge Hellstrom
This is a thought provoking Swedish crime thriller about a young man on Death Row in an Ohio prison for murder, who died before he could be executed – but is then found alive in Sweden six years later. This has been sitting on my shelf for years – it’s nominally the third in a series about grumpy middle aged detective Ewert Grens, and I thought I might be able to find and read the first two, but when I finally gave in I discovered it works just fine as a stand-alone.
This was a brilliant examination of the ethics around the Dealth Penalty in the USA, and actually would’ve worked better if it didn’t keep returning to Ewert’s sad lonely life: his severely brain damaged wife lives in a nursing home, but he won’t allow himself to move on; he has no friends other than the complicated relationships he has with two colleagues, and he antagonises his superiors and anyone in authority. When he first meets John, he’s convinced he’s a vicious thug who should be locked up forever, but once he learns who he is, he has a complete change of heart and becomes convinced of his innocence.
The mystery here is how exactly did John escape, will he avoid the vengeful politicians who are determined to see him die for good, and what really happened to Elizabeth? After effectively maintaining the suspense, I was disappointed by the ending, and the rather bizarre twist that made no sense to me. There is an interesting cast of characters, but not all the subplots are resolved. I’d be interested to try another of the authors’ books, with or without Grens as a main character, as I do like this kind of serious political Scandi-crime.