Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Another Time, Another Life by Leif G. W. Persson - guest review

Translated from Swedish by Paul Norlen

This was my first encounter with this author, styled the Grand Master of Scandinavian Crime Fiction, and I enjoyed it very much. His style is very different from that of say, Jo Nesbo; this is far from thrill a minute crime fiction and the more gruesome of murders are completely absent.

The story spans twenty-five years, starting with an occupation of the West German embassy in Stockholm in 1975 by young German activists which ended in an either deliberate or accidental explosion and the deaths of several people. The surviving terrorists were repatriated to Germany and Sweden settled back into what can only be called complacency. In the second part of the novel, set in 1989 the story concentrates on the murder of a man heartily disliked by everyone who knew him and, unknown at the time, possibly connected with the 1975 attack. The investigation is stalled, largely due to the agenda and incompetence of some of the police officers involved and is eventually shelved. The third part of the story takes us to 2000,  when personalities involved in both the 1975 and 1989 investigations come together to ward off a threatening domestic and international situation.

This author does not use spare prose; the book is very wordy and the style satirical in the extreme, especially at the beginning. The characters generally are both dislikeable and out for their own ends at the expense of all the others, and even the best intentioned of them, such as Anna Holt, have their own agenda. There is quite a lot of sexism, though you gather the author is playing it up for effect, and their are many truly marvellous bitchy asides by both sexes. The main character, who spans the timelines, is Lars Johansson; a very cold fish indeed and to counterbalance him we have the almost farcical Backstrom, who for all his uselessness manages to do very well for himself.

I did really like this book and the satire and black humour had me hooked early on, but it does require an effort to plough through some of the verbiage. You get the feeling that the author as well as his characters has his own agenda and no desire to jump on the current gory fashion in  Scandinavian thrillers.

I would give the book 4 stars. Maybe it may not have the widest appeal in this time of breathless thrillers, but personally I liked the approach and found it a very good read.

Reviewed by Penny Waugh

Published by Doubleday

Many thanks to Penny for reading and reviewing this book for The Little Reader Library.

Thanks to the publisher for kindly sending a copy of this novel for review.


  1. I thought this was different writing, for you, but alas it is Penny, very nice review. Hope your well!


  2. Yet to find a Scandinavian author I actually like I'll be sure to give Leif G. W. Persson a try, thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I've recently picked up a book by this author in my local charity shop - never heard of him before but I love my cold crime so couldn't pass it up. So thanks for the review! I'm looking forward to giving his work a try now.

  4. Glad you enjoyed this. I must revisit it sometime. I absolutely love the follow up to it - 'Linda, As in the Linda Murder'.


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