A Summer with Kim Novak

Written by Haken Nesser

Review written by Sue Lord

A Summer with Kim Novak
World Editions
RRP: £10.99
Released: December 3 2015

Right from the beginning of this book we know that a “terrible thing’ is going to happen and the first part leads up to this. It is the summer of 1962, fourteen years old Eric knows that his mother is dying. As a consequence, accompanied by his elderbrother Henry, Erik and his friend Edmund, are sent to spend thesummer holidays at a cottage beside a lake. Erik and Edmund spend much of their time boating, bicycling and fantasizing about Ewa, a young temporary teacher who looks like the actress Kim Novak.  

Two thirds of the way through the book, “the terrible thing” happens, Ewa's fiancé is found dead and Henry is the chief suspect, but the killer is never found.

Twenty-five years later, Erik reads an article about unsolved crimes and he recalls that summer. Will we find out who murdered Ewa’s fiancé?

The book was first published in 1998 in Sweden, where it is, it seems, considered a minor classic. I must confess that I am not a fan of Nordic Noir and tend to lose the will to live when reading or watching it on the TV.

A Summer with Kim Novak is the story of a transitional period of a young boys life and also part whodunit. The characters are hollow and are not believable. Sense of place is good but it cannot carry the plot, which plods slowly, oh so slowly on. It picks up to snails pace for the remaining third of the book. Maybe the problem is in the translation? The cover picture is baffling, the story a good idea, the book? If you like Swedish literature, give it a go. You might even be reasonably certain about who did what or maybe even care. I didn’t.


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