It is unfortunately often the case that translated crime fiction series are published in England and the United States out of sequence. This is also the case with Death Angels (Original title: Dans med en angel, published in 1997) too – it is the fourth novel in the Chief Inspector Erik Winter series published in English, but it is actually the first book in the series (and Åke Edwardson’s third novel). The series takes place in Gothenburg.
Edwardson (born 1953 in Småland) is a Swedish author of detective fiction. He was previously a lecturer in journalism at Gothenburg University. He has written a large number of books, and so far four of them have been translated into English.
Edwardson’s crime novels have made him a three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Award for best crime novel; twice for best novel, once for best debut novel.
His first novel to be translated into English, in 2005, was Sun and Shadow (Sol och skugga, 1999). The second, Never End (Låt det aldrig ta slut, 2000), followed in 2006. The third, Frozen Tracks (Himlen är en plats på jorden) was published in 2007. Death Angels, one of the earlier books in the series in Sweden, was published in 2009.
In Swedish the Erik Winter series now consists of ten books, and the author says he does not intend to write any more books in this series.
Read more about Ake Edwardson.
In Death Angels readers familiar with the series meet a younger, unmarried Erik Winter. However, he is still Chief Inspector. Winter was the youngest detective ever to be promoted to such an elevated position. And he is pretty much the Erik Winter we have come to know in the later books: A bit remote and contemplative, a loner, quite a bit of a snob, likes expensive brands and jazz, slightly philosophically oriented.
In this book the youngish Chief Inspector teams up with Scotland Yard to solve a mysterious case of parallel killings of young British and Swedish tourists. It involves young men murdered in extremely horrible ways, with blood on walls. Strangely Englishmen are killed in Sweden, and Swedes in London. The killer, dubbed Hitchcock, appears to have filmed the butchery. This is evidenced by traces of a tripod stand in the victims’ blood at the scenes of the crimes. Possibly the plan is to distribute the recordings as snuff films.
Winter sends his people searching wide and deep. Strip clubs seem to a possibility for finding people who might know something. A female stripper named “Angel”, whom one of Winter’s detectives investigating strip clubs gets in touch with, seems to be a person that knows more than she tells. And then a thief who breaks into a house finds a sack full of clothes that have lots of blood on them.
Death Angels is well constructed police procedural. The story is a little slow in taking off. It is not quite as good as Edwardson’s later novels in the series, but we have to remember that it is the debut book in the series. And as such Death Angels is very good opening to a series that has improved over time. The novel is also smoothly translated. And the ending is very interesting, with some very neat twists in the tale.