Title: The Wolf and the Watchman
Author: Niklas Natt Och Dag
Genre: Historical Thriller
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: eARC & physical finished copy from publisher
This book begins with a mutilated body, so it is not for the faint of heart. It takes place in Stokholm in 1793 and centers around two men. Mickel Cardell is a watchman, crippled from the war. He has a wooden arm that he often uses as a secret weapon when he gets into scraps. He is the unfortunate soul that fishes the dead body from the water and feels compelled to ensure the body is seen properly to the grave. Cecil Winge is a consulting detective for the local police and is dying from consumption. He agrees to look into the death of the mutilated body and joins forces with Mickel Cardell.
This was SUCH an interesting book! Definitely not the type of thriller I’m used to. It is dark and gritty, brutal and completely fascinating. I found myself reminded a bit of Sherlock Homes and Watson, though this story is much darker than any Holmes story I remember. If you are a historical fiction fan, I definitely recommend picking this one up!
Thank you so much to Atria books for sending me a copy of this book!
“You are indeed a wolf after all. I’ve seen enough to know and, even if I am wrong, you will soon become one. No one can run with the wolf pack without accepting its terms. You have both the fangs and the glint of the predator in your eye. You deny your blood thirst but it rises around you like a stench. One day your teeth will be stained red and then you’ll know withe certainty how right I was. Your bite will be deep. Maybe you will prove the better wolf, Mr. Winge, and on that note I bid you good night.”
-Niklas Natt Och Dag, The Wolf and the Watchman
*Please note, this quote is from an ARC copy, so it may change in the final copy.
Synopsis: It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.
When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.
In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.
Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.
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