Title: Hard Cheese
Author: Ulf Durling
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime
Publisher: Locked Room International
5th sentence, 74th page: The murderer must have had some kind of relationship to Nilsson.
Gunnary Bergman, a detective sergeant in a small Swedish town, is called in to investigate the death of a resident of a shady boarding house. He makes the mistake of telling his father, Carl, all the details of the case, including the fact that the victim’s room was locked from the inside. Carl, a locked room enthusiast, is a member of a small club which meets regularly to discuss locked room classics. He and his fellow members gleefully seize on the case and apply chains of Ellery Queen style logic to devise a solution which Gunnar finds so hilarious he reads out extracts to his wife in bed. Meanwhile, he himself interprets the same set of clues to arrive at a totally different solution, through shoddy police work which follows the path of least resistance. It is left to a cheese-loving local doctor to interpret the clues in yet another way to solve the case and confront the murderer.
This was my first Nordic Noir. And one of the first books that I’ve read that has been translated from English. And it was fun. Maybe not something that I would reread. Or at least, not until I’ve forgotten what it was like… but fun nevertheless.
For something that was translated to English, this story is beautifully lyrical. For the first two chapters, I didn’t actually pay attention to the storyline, just the way that the words flowed, and the great character voice that was telling the story. There was just something about it that I completely adored… Of course, reading a story with a bad storyline is a guarantee that I will put it down quickly, so once I got over my joy of the language, I also discovered a storyline that was quite interesting and unique.
I have heard of locked room challenges, but I’ve never really heard of locked room crime. This introduction to the subgenre was certainly interesting (as was the introduction to Nordic Noir) and I have mixed feelings about it. It was interesting enough that I would maybe look into another such storyline. But, it wasn’t quite captivating enough that I started looking up similar storylines…. Maybe in a few months time I’ll start to dig up more Nordic Noir / Locked Room stories…
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