Could prison really be worse than a retirement home? Five senior citizens plan the perfect crime to find out.
Martha Andersson has had it with the prisonlike atmosphere at Diamond House Retirement Home. Bad food, limited coffee, and no exercise spell trouble for this spry old woman. With the help of a generous supply of cloudberry liqueur, she recruits her friends into forming The League of Pensioners, bent on committing a crime worthy of incarceration. Perhaps most helpful for Martha’s purposes: nurse Barbara, the ambitious manager of Diamond House. Barbara has her romantic sights set on Ingmar Mattson, the penny-pinching director of the retirement home, and her eagerness to please him leads to the economizing that pushes Martha and her cronies toward a life of crime in the first place—but when Ingmar sweeps Barbara away, it leaves Martha and her cronies the perfect opportunity to misbehave. Brains sorts out the technical details, while Rake and Christina act as henchmen, and Anna-Greta foots much of the bill. Their victimless jewel and art heists, however, soon implode under a series of unexpected obstacles. Instead of hyperbolic, mustache-twirling villains, Ingelman-Sundberg (The Little Lady Who Struck Lucky Again, 2015, etc.) deftly orchestrates the twists and turns in the plot through the foibles of real life, including an overly zealous housekeeper, a vaguely menacing convict, a lazy pair of crewmen, and police officers whose ageism blinds them to the clues right under their noses. Once caught, the pensioners quickly learn much from their fellow inmates—the next crime will certainly come off without a hitch. The first of the League of Pensioners series translated from the Swedish, Ingelman-Sundberg’s tale captures the rebelliousness percolating just under the surface of ignored, shuffled away elderly folks, although the simplistic prose sounds a bit paternalistic at times.
A merry, lighthearted caper.