THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN by Niklas Natt och Dag
Kirkus Star


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In his debut novel, Natt och Dag examines the effects of a brutal murder on those who investigate it—and explores the psychological causes for the crime.

Stockholm, 1793: Sweden is still recovering from an unpopular war with Russia; some veterans, like watchman Mickel Cardell, lost limbs in the slaughter, and he was one of the lucky ones. Cardell hardly feels lucky though, nursing a fierce rage that simmers below the surface and finding solace only in drinking to excess. When Cardell is summoned by two children to examine a body they've found floating in putrid waters, he can barely be bothered, but the corpse, disturbingly mutilated, haunts him. Together with lawyer Cecil Winge, who is measuring his life in days since being diagnosed with consumption and trying to stay above the rampant political corruption that is flooding the police department, Cardell doggedly pursues every lead to find the monster at the heart of this case. Along the way, he meets a desperate widow, lately escaped from the cruel fate of a workhouse; learns of a secret society of wealthy men who are offered a place to indulge their perverted desires in return for charitable donations; and picks savage fights to slake his anger at the way the world treats the poor and the downtrodden. Winge brings a certain intellectual precision to the investigation as he, too, struggles to keep his demons at bay. Natt och Dag writes sensory, horror-inducing descriptions of the lives and deaths of the poor inhabitants of Stockholm. At the same time, his characters almost spring off the page, they are so human and so fully realized. Natt och Dag doesn’t apologize for human nature, nor does he excuse our crimes and basest cruelties, but his deep dive into the dark corners of our psyches, as well as this harsh time in history, is both chilling and thought-provoking.

Relentless, well-written, and nearly impossible to put down.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5011-9677-5
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2019


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