Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Shadow by Karin Alvtegen

Shadow (original 2007; edition 2009)

by Karin Alvtegen, McKinley Burnett (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2702242,050 (3.52)10
A good novel with a well-developed storyline. It takes a while to get going but when it does the surprises and plot-twists comes thick and fast. Some characters have been realised much better than others, but overall an accomplished work from a very competent writer. Recommended, but ‘buyer beware’ if you’re not a reasonably patient reader! ( )
  rburdock | Feb 27, 2009 |
English (17)  Danish (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 17 of 17
Kept my interest. There's quite a layered plot. Very few characters come out of it with any credit and only the character that starts it off - Marianne Folkesson - seems to get any real satisfaction in her working life sorting out the funerals of people who have nobody to do it for them after their death. We don't learn anything about her private life so it's not possible to speculate there but without exception all the other characters have a pretty dismal working life and an absolutely miserable private life. While I guess the book demonstrates that misery begats misery both in private and public there seems to be something missing - surely there must be someone somewhere in Sweden that is happy and encountered at some point in the book. I fantasize about a neighbour who mends central heating for a living - and loves it, and maybe has sister that runs a wool shop - and loves it, and whose daughter is training to be a teacher - and loves it. And maybe all the happy people are just out of sight! ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
The book begins in 1975 when a four year old boy is discovered abandoned at an amusement park with a note asking for him to be looked after. Then the narrative jumps forward to the present day where a 92-year-old woman, Gerda Person, dies alone in her flat. She has no living relatives so Social Services administrator Marianne Folkesson is given the task of putting her affairs in order and organising the funeral.

Gerda Persson, turns out to be the former housekeeper of the highly respected Nobel Laureate Axel Ragnerfeldt and his family.

Axel Ragnerfeldt is now an old man and has suffered from a stroke and subsequently is unable to communicate except by moving his finger. Marianne therefore contacts Axel's son, Jan-Erik, who has made a living of giving talks and readings from his Father’s books. Marianne asks him to find a photograph of Gerda for the funeral and Jan-Erik begins to search his father’s old house. It is here that he uncovers a series of devastating family secrets that should have stayed hidden.

The author has written a compelling tale of the bleakness of humanity and the lengths that some will go to protect themselves and their reputation at whatever the cost. Alvtegen cunningly weaves layer upon layer of complicated and complex story threads told by the characters themselves. These stories twine and inter twine in a series of flashbacks and past histories that bring the all choices of the characters and the subsequent consequences together.

I really loved about this book is the fact that only the reader can see all the pieces

It is a slow burner but the final thrilling dénouements are relentless and left me feeling exhausted and rather shaken. At this point I remembered Halina’s fable and set to pondering on which one of the characters had committed the worst crime….I thought about it for days

A dark, dark read.
( )
  jan.fleming | May 2, 2013 |
Disillusioning portrayal of human nature. Well written but deeply depressing. ( )
  haled | Jun 20, 2011 |
A child of four is found abandoned in an amusement park with little more than some crumbs, an empty juice bottle, a tape recorder, and a Bambi book by his side. There's also a note: "Take care of this child. Forgive me." Thus, one is drawn into this neatly crafted novel, which keeps one rapt as layer upon layer is slowly and deftly revealed.

Some 30 years later, Gerda Persson's body is found three days after she has died at the age of 92, with no clue as to who she is. Astonishingly, her freezer yields a neatly sealed load of books by the Nobel laureate and national treasure, Axel Ragnerfeldt. On closer inspection, each book reveals a personal, handwritten inscription by the celebrated author to Gerda. What is the connection between Gerda Persson, Axel Ragnerfeldt, and the foundling?

This novel fits the crime and psychological thriller genre, but has no detective or investigator. The tale unfolds via the voices of Axel (interesting name, as everything revolves around him), his wife, son, housekeeper, and a couple of other key role players, including Kristoffer Sandeblom, a man in his thirties in search of his roots. As we glimpse each character's mindset and life experience, the story builds up gradually and compellingly revealing a picture of secrecy, deceit, crime and murder.

This is a dark book with very little light and many shadows. The biggest is arguably Ragnerfeldt's tour-de-force Shadow, which swayed the Nobel in his favour. The bright glow of this man's prominence casts a heavy shadow on all the people in his life, including his wife, the members of his family, friends, and even fellow-writers.

Axel Ragnerfeldt has climbed the ladder of success, but at what price? His bid for fame as a writer has left a set of disillusioned, embittered and pained individuals in its wake. Though the world adores him and looks up to him, he heads a deeply unhappy and dysfunctional family. At its core, the novel delves into the ramifications of accomplishment: What lengths are we prepared to go to ensure worldly success? And are all the sacrifices worth it, at the end of the day?

Karin Alvtegen is one of Sweden's popular writers, and Shadow won the Danish Best Crime Novel of the Year award and was shortlisted for the Swedish Academy of Crime Writer's Award. This is a quick, engaging read that abounds with revelations of dark secrets and intrigue, and keeps one spellbound until its inevitable and brilliant denouement.

This review was first published in Issue 7 of Belletrista.com: http://www.belletrista.com/2010/issue7/reviews_2.php ( )
  akeela | May 13, 2011 |
Shadow is a very good book, as was Missing also by Alvtegen. Shadow is not "traditional" crime fiction, and it's not really about the crime(s), rather it is about the events leading up to the victims' deaths which are the focus. The reader is a considerable way into the book before the suggestion of an upcoming criminal act is first raised. There is no police inspector to uncover all the details and ensure that justice triumphs. I suppose a case could be made that there are heroes in the story, but they are relatively minor characters. So what are we left with then? Well, deeply flawed individuals driven by fame and money, preaching the rewards of "doing the right thing", but behaving just the opposite when events put them in totally unexpected circumstances. (Doesn't sound like crime fiction, does it?) Well, good writing, a book that will stay with you, characters that are well drawn but nobody you would want to have over for dinner. Would I recommend this to others? Perhaps, but certainly not to everybody.... ( )
  maneekuhi | Oct 19, 2010 |
Interesting plot with several twists. ( )
  gilly1944 | Oct 6, 2010 |
A powerful story of the gradual unravelling of mysteries from the past. The author creates a convincingly brooding atmosphere, and the story emerges from the characters, rather than vice versa. Why not four or five stars -- the book after all won "Best Crime Novel" awards in both Sweden and Denmark? My problem is personal; it is just too sad, and it left me with a feeling of futility. I like crime novels where sweetness and light -- or at least a rational set of social relationships -- is established at the end, and nobody wins in this one. ( )
  annbury | Sep 5, 2010 |
Shadow is a dark tale of a famous literary family and the gradual stripping away of their secrets to reveal murder and betrayal. ( )
1 vote bhowell | Sep 1, 2010 |
Without wanting to appear negative, I didn’t like this book much at all.

The story starts with the abandoned young boy and quickly moves to the death of Gerda Persson. The books of Nobel Prize winner Axel Ragnerfeldt are found in the freezer and so we begin.

Straight away, the characters are really difficult to like - we have a recovering alcoholic prone to wandering off into rambling social commentary (which has no relevance to the story and seems to be a way for the author to vent her views), a privileged but completely ungrateful misogynist and his worn down wife. I couldn’t find sympathy for any of them - Gerda Persson sums it up perfectly: “…I’m content and you’re not. You’re always chasing after what you imagine you could become”. She is addressing the famous Axel himself but it could apply to all of the key characters here.

As you might have guessed, Alvtegen splits her narrative between the past and the present. I actually liked this to some extent - for example, Louise is the long-suffering wife of the borderline alcoholic and general philanderer, Jan-Erik. Through her eyes, we see general confusion at his behaviour and then we witness the actions as they happen and understand their relationship that little bit better.

However, as events pan out, this technique becomes a little worn and the story flits all over in an attempt to hastily rap everything up. And herein lies my biggest problem with this book. The “revelations” at the end of this book come thick and fast and they become rapidly more shocking. Unfortunately, not in a good way. It really is difficult to explain why I disliked this so much without massive spoilers. Let me say this: I have no problem with ‘dark’ themes in my books. What I do have a problem with are events which are so abhorrent that I can’t help but feel the story is cheapened and the author is simply employing shock tactics.

And why were the books in the freezer? I still have no idea whatsoever…

Overall: This really isn’t a “crime novel” as I would imagine them. Yes, there are crimes, but the book is more about the effects of the crimes than the acts themselves. I would only recommend this to adults who aren’t too sensitive and aren’t opposed to reading about the darker side of humanity. ( )
  litaddictedbrit | Aug 17, 2010 |
Karin Alvtegen's "Shadow" is a dense philosophical study of whether or not "our choices are without meaning" or whether "it is precisely our choices that make all the difference." She presents the difference in these two views of choice with a story told by a character in the novel about a Nazi soldier sent as part of an execution squad who chooses to die with the condemned Jews rather than become one of their killers. Alvtegen continues her illustratration of the question of choice through the various choices and consequences of several characters: Kristopher, a boy abandoned on the steps of an amusement park who, even as an adult keeps hoping his parents will find him again; Marianne Folkesson, the Social Services estate administrator charged with finalizing the estates of the clients who died while under state care; Gerda Persson, former housekeeper to Axel Ragnerfeldt, whose estate Folkesson must resolve; Axel Ragnerfeldt, Nobel Prize for Literature winner, and his family; Torgny Wennberg, a forgotten writer and Ragnerfeld's cohort: Halina, Wennberg's former girlfriend, who becomes obsessed with Ragnerfeldt; and Jesper Falk, a writer and best friend of Kristopher, whose book has just been accepted for publication.

The author presents these lives, their choices, and their consequences by examining stretches of past and present where these lives and their choices intersect. In terms of tone and the human condition, James Joyce's "Jude" and Somerset Maughm's "Of Human Bondage" come to mind. At times the introspection of the characters becomes quite tiresome, at other times sharply illuminating. But the author does a dead-on job of revealing how lack of communication between people can destroy the bonds of friendship and family and drive choices and all their unintended consequences.

This is not a novel for anyone who seeks to escape the tedium of everyday life. Rather, it is certainly a cautionary tale of how a momentary choice can "make all the difference." ( )
  jmyers24 | Oct 5, 2009 |
Psychological thrillers aren't really my genre, but a new found liking for Inger Frimansson has made me interested in venturing into this field. And so far I generally like what I find, I must say.

This dark and sad novel is a puzzle without a detective. It starts with some names found in an adress book in a deceased woman with no next of kin's flat, something which starts to unravel a whole net of old lies, secrets and crimes. Something is very rotten indeed in the house of Sweden's most acclaimed writer, nobel prize winner Axel Ragnefeldt. His voice, trapped inside his paralysed body after a brain anyerism, fearing for what might be found in the closet in his office, is one of the book's more powerful ones.

But the book is very polyphonic, telling from the point of view of many different characters, all of them being subjective, self-righteous, self-loathing or self-pitying. In the end, the only one with all the answers is the reader. It's cleverly and skillfully achieved.

The characters feel mostly solid, humanly trapped in their own petty agendas. I feel I get to know them, and mostly even understand them. A few moment of shocking unlikeliness, hard to overlook, occur though (such as Axel's response to Torgny's ulitmatum which I just don't buy) and brings the book down a notch or two.

This book made me sad a lot of times. The descriptions of stale and loveless relationships are pretty harsh, and there's very litte light throughout. But it's a fine, complex weave, and leaves me wanting to read more of Alvtegen. ( )
  GingerbreadMan | Sep 11, 2009 |
Scandinavian crime writers tend to do two things very well: delve deeply into the psychology of the characters and their intimate relationships and examine social issues through the impact of a crime. In this novel, the former takes center stage as the secret of who abandoned a small child in the opening pages is slowly, very slowly, unraveled. While Alvtegen is a master of character analysis, I didn't find myself very interested in these people and the ratio of introspection to action didn't suit my personal tastes. That said, I've seen many strongly positive reactions to this book, so don't take my word for it.
  bfister | Aug 1, 2009 |
Gerda Persson had lain dead for three days by the time the home help discovered her body. Her decision that at her death she would reveal to the person who most needed to know a secret she had been burdened with for 35 years sets in train a sequence of events that destroys lives.

Thirty five years before a little boy had been left on the steps of the Skansen amusement park, apparently abandoned by his mother. For 35 years he has searched for his identity, and now he will find out.

The structure of this book is like the orchestral composition where one by one the players are introduced, each playing a slightly different theme, in their own world. And then the players come together, the composition gathers tempo, rising to a heart stopping crescendo. I saw none of the resolutions of the various themes in SHADOW coming, and they left me nearly breathless.
And then the final 3 pages, for me reminscent of that final line from T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men, .."not with a bang, but with a whimper".

I'm staggered by the power of this book. ( )
  smik | Jun 30, 2009 |
Scandinavian crime novelists share a certain dour sensibility with a tendency to create characters who feel isolated from society. Alvtegen does this beautifully and her writing reminds me of Barbara Vine and Minette Walters, with her own Scandinavian take on things.

Shame begins with the story of a four-year-old boy abandoned at an amusement park and continues with the death of a lonely old woman thirty years later, As the story unfolds, it pulls in a Nobel prize winning author, a concentration camp survivor, a well meaning social worker and many other seemingly unrelated threads to weave together a tightly plotted tale asking how far would you go to protect the life you feel you deserve? ( )
  RidgewayGirl | May 17, 2009 |
Once again I find this woman's writing rivetting, full of twists and turns.
This story centres around a 'foundling' and his links to one of Sweden's most famous authors Axel Ragnerfeldt and his family and friends and plots a course over 50 years in duration. ( )
  Markus56 | Apr 11, 2009 |
A good novel with a well-developed storyline. It takes a while to get going but when it does the surprises and plot-twists comes thick and fast. Some characters have been realised much better than others, but overall an accomplished work from a very competent writer. Recommended, but ‘buyer beware’ if you’re not a reasonably patient reader! ( )
  rburdock | Feb 27, 2009 |
Vi kender de klassiske svenske krimier fra Sjöwall og Wahlöö til Liza Marklund. Karin Alvtegen er også svensker og vi er i spændingsgenren, men ikke på den klassiske ”detektivmåde”. Skygge er en svensk thriller.

Den hjemlige Nobelpristager i litteratur Axel Ragnerfeldt sidder svag og afkræftet på et plejehjem efter et slagtilfælde. Rundt om ham i Stockholm sker der en masse, der får den Ragnerfeldtske families skeletter til at vælte ud af skabene.

Omdrejningspunktet i romanen er den 92-årige Gerda Perssons (helt naturlige) død. Da hun ikke har nogen pårørende bliver det bobestyrer Marianne Folkessons opgave at opspore eventuelle deltagere til begravelsen. I hendes efterladenskaber findes der forskellige hints, der får historien i gang: Bøger af Axel Ragnerfeldt med dedikationer, et testamente hvor en vis Kristoffer er anført som enearving, en enkelt henvendelse på en annonce i avisen.

Gennem Gerda kædes historien om Axel Ragnerfeldt og hans familie sammen med hittebarnet Kristoffers og den fallerede forfatter Torgny. Som sagt rasler skeletterne ud af skabet efterhånden som historien om Gerda Persson trævles op.

Havde Axel en affære – og kom der et barn ud af det?
Hvem efterlod Kristoffer på en trappe i Stockholm for 30 år siden – og hvorfor?
Kan Jan-Erik Ragnerfeldts forhold til konen reddes?

Jeg synes måske ikke bogen har ”tænderskærende spænding, bestående af lige dele ondskab og forbrydelse”, som der ellers står på bogens bagside. Dvs. at jeg synes ikke, at betegnelsen thriller er helt passende, men jeg synes bestemt det er en god og læseværdig bog. Og et fint alternativ til de svenske krimier til sommerferien.

Der findes tre andre romaner af Alvtegen på dansk.
  Laeseklubben | Dec 31, 1969 |
Showing 17 of 17

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
30 wanted
1 pay1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.52)
1 1
2 7
2.5 1
3 24
3.5 13
4 25
4.5 2
5 9


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847671705, 1847671713

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,249,029 books! | Top bar: Always visible