The Hand That Trembles (Ann Lindell)
by Kjell Eriksson
Translated by Ebba Segerberg;
Cover Artist: Photo: Matthew Taylor / Millennium Images, UK
Review by Verna Suit
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312605056
Date: 02 August 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Kjell Eriksson's fourth mystery to be translated into English is once again set in Uppsala, Sweden. Several cases are intertwined: the 12-year-old disappearance and sudden resurfacing of county commissioner Sven-Arne Persson; a woman's severed foot that appears on the beach of an isolated Swedish peninsula; and the old unsolved murder of an 85-year-old man in his home. Ann Lindell and her colleagues on the Uppsala police force attempt to untangle the facts of the three cases while the reader tries to figure out how any of them could be connected.
Much of the book is written from the viewpoint of Sven-Arne, who has crafted a new life for himself in Bangalore, India. His new identity is threatened when an old neighbor who is there on business spots him. Sven-Arne decides that he needs to disappear again. Before he can, word that he is alive filters back to Uppsala with unfortunate repercussions. While the reader ponders what could have caused this low-level politician to leave his homeland, Sven-Arne reflects on his current and past life and memories of his forceful Uncle Ante.
The other major narrator is Detective Ann Lindell as she pursues the case of the severed foot. She becomes immersed in the lives of the peninsula's residents and the ways of Swedish country folk. Because the area is close to the town where the father of her young son lives, she is frequently distracted by thoughts of him and of what might have been.
Most of Eriksson's books have an international flavor and The Hand that Trembles is no exception. The extended scenes in Bangalore are joined by an old man's memories of the Spanish Civil War and the problems of current-day Asian immigrants. Characters display their complexities as the author delves deep into their psyches. Discussion of Swedish politics and political disillusionment at times interferes with the story's accessibility, but this is balanced by wonderful domestic scenes of everyday Swedish life.