We are in Sweden. It is summer. It’s beautiful, life is easy. A young couple is vacationing in a remote farmhouse. Beth and Ulf. A teacher, a journalist. They are alone, in love. The strawberries are in season, the wine is good, the sun shines. Life is so good it can’t get much better.
Then, a stranger enters the scene. At the wrong time, looking the wrong way; a bit scary. Beth reacts quickly. Overreacts, actually. And kills the man with her axe. There is blood everywhere. And a body. The body of an unknown man. A cat is looking at them. Now what?
Beth and Ulf start on their way to self-destruction. Bad decisions followed by poor choices. Mostly choices driven by their preference to avoid pain, problems and complications. Their life had so far been nice, orderly, and pretty. They would very much like it to continue to be nice, orderly, and pretty. Why should something that happened in a matter of seconds, something meaningless, odd, so totally not them, not at all what they wanted, be allowed to impact their life? They bury the body behind the farmhouse. So, no body, no problem…right?
Inger Frimansson is a wonderful writer and a master of the psychological thriller genre. In The Cat Did Not Die we once again meet a seemingly harmonious idyll where something awful accidentally enters and then completely pollutes it. A new, morbid, odd, twisted reality increasingly replaces the harmony, wiggles its way to the front, and imprisons the actors in a drama where the choices become increasingly restrained.
Frimansson writes in a clear, concise, suggestive and understated style. She is a bestselling author in Scandinavia, and has received the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers Award for Best Mystery for Good Night, My Darling and for The Shadow in the Water. She is very skillful at building tension. In The Cat Did Not Die she also – as in some of her other books – uses the cat as an omen, a symbol, to great effect.
The Cat Did Not Die is both interesting and entertaining, masterfully illuminating the doom that can sometimes reside in the smallest of details and gradually, but ever so carefully, grow its destructive influence. It is a masterful crime fiction novel by Frimansson – one of Scandinavia’s best pens.