Eriksson, Kjell - 'The Hand that Trembles' (translated by Ebba Segerberg)
In the first part of THE HAND THAT TREMBLES, we are introduced to Swedish politician Sven-Arne Persson through a glimpse at his childhood and then in modern day. Inexplicably he has left Sweden, in secret, and now lives in India with a rewarding post as gardener at the public park in Bangalore. His wife and colleagues believe him dead as he has not been seen since he walked out of a council meeting. However a chance encounter with a fellow Swede in a restaurant sets off a chain of events which lead Persson back to Sweden and to the Uppsala police.
Meanwhile Uppsala Police Inspector Ann Lindell's boss is in hospital recovering from a life-threatening illness. Ann wants him to look at the Persson case but instead he wants to try and solve a cold-case murder in which a wheel-chair-bound elderly man was bludgeoned to death. Then a foot is swept up on the coast some kilometres away from Uppsala, in an area Ann knows well from a failed relationship. Because of the relationship and small nature of the community, it is only reluctantly that Ann gets involved in trying to identify the foot and solve the presumed murder case.
I was very pleased to read that a UK publisher (Allison & Busby) has picked up the Ann Lindell series by Kjell Eriksson though not without some reservations as thanks to my public library I had already read two of the books available in English in their US editions: THE PRINCESS OF BURUNDI and THE CRUEL STARS OF THE NIGHT. I remember being really taken with the former but as you can see from my review, woefully disappointed in the latter, so much so that I didn't read THE DEMON OF DAKAR even though it was also available to me. THE HAND THAT TREMBLES follows on from DEMON in the series and I found my response fell between the very positive and very negative earlier experiences.
The first section, which is mainly set in India and is the life and times of a very unlikeable character dragged and I just wanted the story to move to and stop in Sweden with the police characters. When it did so and the murders were actually being investigated, it was a gripping read and I became keen to get back to it whenever possible. Ann is the main police character and I do still find her love-life or lack of it tedious and some of her behaviour annoying (though she has learnt from her experience in CRUEL STARS). The resolutions to the mysteries, though perhaps reflect real life, are somewhat unsatisfactory in this fictional world but the book does cover more than just crimes, with its reflections on society, exploitation and the world today and its recent past (in this case the Spanish Civil War).
Based on this outing, I will read more in this series. THE HAND THAT TREMBLES should appeal to fans of character-driven stories who are not expecting a fast-paced police procedural.
Unfortunately another proofread of THE HAND THAT TREMBLES would have been beneficial, as at times names are muddled up, sentences appear to say the opposite of what they were intended to mean and there are some typographical errors.
Karen Meek, England