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The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och…

The Wolf and the Watchman (2019)

by Niklas Natt och Dag

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2633467,110 (3.94)26
"The Alienist set in eighteenth-century Stockholm: Brawny, bloody, intricate, enthralling-and the best historical thriller I've read in twenty years." -A.J. Finn, #1 bestselling author of The Woman in the Window "Thrilling, unnerving, clever, and beautiful." -Fredrik Backman, #1 bestselling author of A Man Called Ove "Chilling and thought-provoking. Relentless, well-written, and nearly impossible to put down." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Named Best Debut Novel of 2017 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers One morning in the autumn of 1793, watchman Mikel Cardell is awakened from his drunken slumber with reports of a body seen floating in the Larder, once a pristine lake on Stockholm's Southern Isle, now a rancid bog. Efforts to identify the bizarrely mutilated corpse are entrusted to incorruptible lawyer Cecil Winge, who enlists Cardell's help to solve the case. But time is short: Winge's health is failing, the monarchy is in shambles, and whispered conspiracies and paranoia abound. Winge and Cardell become immersed in a brutal world of guttersnipes and thieves, mercenaries and madams. From a farmer's son who is lead down a treacherous path when he seeks his fortune in the capital to an orphan girl consigned to the workhouse by a pitiless parish priest, their gruesome investigation peels back layer upon layer of the city's labyrinthine society. The rich and the poor, the pious and the fallen, the living and the dead-all collide and interconnect with the body pulled from the lake. Breathtakingly bold and intricately constructed, The Wolf and the Watchman brings to life the crowded streets, gilded palaces, and dark corners of late-eighteenth-century Stockholm, offering a startling vision of the crimes we commit in the name of justice, and the sacrifices we make in order to survive.… (more)



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English (26)  Dutch (4)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
"Man is wolf to man." Stockholm, 1793. Watchman Mickel Cardell, a one-armed veteran, is wakened from drunken sleep to attend the scene of a truly hideous murder. Police Chief Johan Gustaf Norlin, about to be replaced at the Indebetou, enlists his friend, consumptive young attorney Cecil Winge, to serve an adjunctive role with the police department for the investigation. He, said to be living on borrowed time, is known as "the Ghost of the Indebetou." Memorable characters, stylish prose, a vivid historical setting, and a grisly crime not for the faint of heart. Grimly compelling and morally complex. ( )
  beaujoe | Aug 3, 2019 |
An impressive debut mystery that is so gruesome that I wasn’t sure I could finish it. Listening to the audio version made it somehow seem more real and was very well executed (poor choice of words) by the three actors who played the parts. It took me longer than usual to finish because I was on vacation and had no opportunity to listen for four or five days and feel like I have been reading the book for a very long time.

In Stockholm in 1793, a mutilated body is discovered by some boys in an open sewer and the watchman, Mikel Cardel, a veteran who lost his arm in the recent war with Russia, is tasked with helping the brilliant prosecutor Cecil Winge (the Wolf), with the investigation. Winge is being consumed by tuberculosis and doesn’t have long to live.

The story is told in four parts and just when you thought you might have an inkling about what happened, the plot shifts, a few more multi-dimensional characters are introduced and your theory goes out the window. An absolutely brilliant book, hard to stop listening to even with the horrifying elements. The author richly describes the horrid conditions in a deplorable workhouse for women, the extreme poverty of the time, the corrupt government in Stockholm and the grubbiness and filth of the city. The worst human behavior you can imagine takes place and left me gasping at times. I would find myself returning from my walk, at first unable to turn off the audio and then finally turning it off and just standing in my kitchen and letting settle what I’d just absorbed.

Some have compared this to The Alienist but for me it was much darker than that novel. And much darker than Dickens’ Victorian London too. I don’t think there’s really a book to compare it to.

The fourth part brings together all of the elements that have not seemed to be connected but of course they are. The twist at the end provides a much needed sense of satisfaction. Highly recommended for those who are not squeamish and want some insight into that particular time and place. ( )
1 vote brenzi | Jul 4, 2019 |
Extremely gruesome but very well crafted thriller. The late 18th-century Stockholm setting was terrific—dirty, drunken, mean, and politically fraught—and that's what hooked me in. The crime it hinges on, and some of the plot details, are pretty horrific—mutilation, torture, and more than your garden variety of fecal matter. Almost enough to put me off, and I've got a strong stomach, but in the end it was a twisty, well-written, and dark police procedural (with some medium-necessary flourishes that make me think a few of the characters are going to turn up in a future book), and that kept me reading. This is most definitely not for the faint of heart, though. ( )
1 vote lisapeet | Jun 24, 2019 |
The Wolf and the Watchman, Niklas Natt och Dag, author; Caspar Rundegren, Clara Andersson, narrators
I understand, after completing this book, why it won awards and acclaim. It was well researched and the use of the English language was exceptional. However, the extensive descriptions of excessive brutality made it really hard to keep reading, at times. Actually, at the half way point, I almost gave up. The gruesome depictions of torture and vicious human behavior, when pushed to the edge of sanity, were becoming too graphic; they made my stomach turn. However, I made a decision to stick with it and just after that point, the illustrations of violence actually did diminish for awhile, and that made it easier to continue. I generally enjoy the writings of Scandinavian authors, and this book was so widely praised, I wanted to find out why.
The author describes situations that exist beyond the edges of most imaginations. The book is not for the faint of heart. I truly found it hard to understand how someone, from a noble heritage, who used the language so beautifully, could write something so grotesque about the past. The sadism was beyond the beyond and yet, if it is based on history it makes the subject matter even more difficult to absorb or comprehend. Throughout the book, there are many characters introduced with seeming little importance to the novel, but, by the end, they are all tied in so well, that there are no questions left unanswered and the reader is fully satisfied.
When a body is discovered that has been viciously mutilated, the wolf, a dying Inspector, Carl Winge, and the watchman, Mickel Cardell, an injured former soldier, team up to solve the murder. Both men have secret reasons for wanting to solve this crime. Both men need to do it to obtain their own closure because of the private ghosts they carry within their thoughts and dreams.
The book is truly gruesome because the torture described is excessively violent and must be the result of what has to be an incredibly depraved mind. The narrative reveals the decadence and corruption of the times, (the time is 1793), as well as the extent of the poverty and the bizarre and cruel punishments of the times. The people seemed to be filled with a blood lust and the inequality of the class divide was a catalyst for revolution and death. During this time, Marie Antoinette was beheaded.
The extensive misery suffered by the citizenry seems to have reached a boiling point and the capacity for compassion was often lost while the capacity for barbaric behavior increased. The anti-Semitism of the day was introduced with characters that portray the stereotype of the cold-hearted, moneylending Jew. If you were not part of the royal scene, you lived from hand to mouth and often were practically forced to behave unethically and amorally. Human life was devalued. Women, especially, were powerless and often subjected to unfair punishments for behavior forced upon them. Desperation grew and with it, the atmosphere in society grew darker and more dangerous.
The double entendre in the meaning of the words watchman and wolf is subtly introduced throughout the pages and the impact of the varied definitions effects the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the book, even with its painfully, monstrous descriptions of the times and the people. What is a wolf? What is a watchman? What purpose do they serve? As the characters lives are developed slowly, and yet, in great detail, the reader is tantalized with questions of who they are and what purpose they serve in the novel. In the end, it is all revealed.
So even though it was a difficult read, the value of the book for me, was in its creativity, its structure and its language. There really was not even one wasted word or phrase, so I am glad I stuck with the novel. It sure held my interest once I was able to tolerate the brutality.
The audio book was read exceptionally well by the narrators as they did not get in the way of the book, but rather read it with appropriate tone and emphasis, presenting each character appropriately.
So, in conclusion, it took me a long time to finally finish this book. I found it to be a powerful novel, which was difficult to read because of the violence and excessive brutality described in such graphic detail. I wondered what kind of a person could imagine such sadistic behavior. Yet, it was one of the most creatively crafted books I have read in ages, and it didn't seem to be designed to brainwash the reader as so many books are designed to do today, in the current political climate. The author used words so effectively, that I was placed in the setting, experiencing the moment with the characters, and that perhaps is why it was so difficult to read. Still, it captured my complete attention and encouraged me to do some research on the times to see if the history was true to form, and that, to me, is a great and important reason for reading a book.
If it encourages learning, it is more meaningful to me. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Jun 7, 2019 |
It's 1793, and Stockholm is not a kind place for anyone lacking in money, name or power. When a badly mutilated body is found in a local pond, really an open sewer, it falls to Mikel Cardell, a veteran who lost an arm in battle, to pull it out. Cecil Winge is asked by the soon-to-be-ousted head of the police to investigate and he quickly enlists Cardell's help. Winge once lived in a fine house with his wife, but since his tuberculosis became a certain death warrant, he lives alone in a single room. The two men are an odd pair but they work well together. Unraveling who the corpse is, who killed him and why poses a difficult challenge to the men.

This is such a solidly plotted, researched and written novel. It was a delight to read a book that had everything it needed, from a vivid setting and characters who were fully realized and complex, to the plot, which held together tightly. This is the kind of well-executed historical thriller that is far too rare. I was invested in it from the opening pages to the final paragraph. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | May 28, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Vold, fyll, nød og urenslighet slår mot deg fra første til siste side i denne tidvis groteske krimfortellingen fra et Sverige preget av nedgangstider og maktkamp
added by annek49 | editVG, Sindre Hovdenakk (Sep 1, 2018)
Niklas Natt och Dag (han heter faktisk det!) med storartet «Stockholm noir»
ANMELDELSE. En fulltreffer av en historisk roman som avdekker røttene til det moderne og motsetningsfylte Sverige.
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List baart list, geweld baart geweld.
- Thomas Thorild, 1793
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Mickel Cardell drijft in het koude water.
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One morning in the autumn of 1793, watchman Mikel Cardell is awakened from his drunken slumber with reports of a body seen floating in the Larder, once a pristine lake on Stockholm’s Southern Isle, now a rancid bog. Efforts to identify the bizarrely mutilated corpse are entrusted to incorruptible lawyer Cecil Winge, who enlists Cardell’s help to solve the case. But time is short: Winge’s health is failing, the monarchy is in shambles, and whispered conspiracies and paranoia abound.
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