Island of the Naked Women, by Inger Frimansson

by Peter

Inger Frimansson is a Swedish author and journalist who writes psychological thrillers, in many ways similar in style to Karin Alvtegen and Karin Fossum. Her breakthrough in Sweden came with the novel Good Night my Darling in 1998 (see also our review of  The Shadow in the Water).

If you expect Island of Naked Women to be a soft porn novel, Island of the Naked Women, by Inger Frimansson you are in for a disappointment. The title has a historical explanation, but is somewhat parenthetical to the content of the novel. Instead, this is another psychological thriller by Inger Frimansson, written is a style she masters to perfection. In 50 or so pages she sets the stage for an exciting and suspenseful novel with a tense atmosphere. And when things start to happen, the consequences are bad both in a real sense and psychologically – and it really feels as if they had to be bad, nothing else would have been right in the dark scene so vividly drawn by Frimansson.

In Island of the Naked Woman (superbly translated from Swedish by Laura Wideburg), writer Tobias Elmkvist, a Stockholm novelist with career troubles, tired and at times deeply depressed, returns to his childhood home in Ôstgötaland to visit and help his father, Carl Sigvard. His relationship to him is not good, as Tobias (wrongly) feels that his father is ashamed of him. Even so he feels that he now needs to help his father who is confined to his bed after having broken his leg.

When he arrives, he meets his father’s younger partner, the somewhat coarse Sabina Johansson, and finds himself strongly attracted to her. As it turns out, the attraction is mutual. And shortly after, as Tobias and Sabina give in to their desires in a barn tack-room, a disapproving local, Hardy Lindström, walks in and confronts them. Tobias gets scared, and plunges a screwdriver into Lindstrom’s throat. He thinks he has killed him. However, when he later returns to the barn, he finds no trace of the body and no blood. Was it a dream? Did he imagine it all?

Island of the Naked Women is more a psychological thriller than a mystery novel. There is no mystery in the book for the reader. Rather this is more a study of guild and emotions associated with it. It is well written and composed, and the characters are very intriguing, constructed in a manner that makes for strange dynamics and lots of tension. A good, suspenseful book with a tense atmosphere which I recommend.

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