Another Time, Another Life by Leif G W Persson
|Another Time, Another Life by Leif G W Persson|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: It's not dreadful, but this mix of police procedural and political conspiracy story holds nothing to make it a must-read.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 480||Date: October 2012|
|Publisher: Black Swan|
We start, enjoyably enough, in the realm of truth, as German terrorists attack their own embassy in Stockholm, demanding things as only the Red Army Faction demanded. But the truth only goes so far - as this whole book will prove - before we are engaged in the solving of a civil servant's murder some years later. There should be no connection - but there is. There should be a way to solve the crime - but there are too many potential stories and nobody to point the way. There should also be effective collaboration in the police forces - but with personalities as rich as these investigators, there won't be.
I have to confess I cheated at this book. I had not even finished it before I was seeking other reviews and more judgement on it. This was only possible because I was convinced I was seeing things from the wrong angle, and not getting the gist of the story successfully. But I know from having read every word that I was right all along. This is not a nightmare, but neither is it a dream to read.
I didn't mind the narrative style, where the exposition comes across in an almost journalistic style, discussing the facts and foregrounding the action, yet leaving copious pages for dialogue and short, snappy paragraphs. I didn't mind that those are presented with a routine 'he said, she said', interspersed copiously with almost gnomic lines about the speaker's thought process, which turn the narrator and the detectives both into supermen.
I didn't mind the fact that characters come into and drop out of the story with quite a bluntness - for this is part of a larger series of books and many will recur in different patterns elsewhere, nor that one of them is a totally unreconstructed throwback a la Gene Hunt.
What I minded most was the length, and the gains made from all that. After the opening, the entire rest of the first half regards the murdered man. and the procedural is just far too slow, detailed and long. Throughout, Persson puts onto everything the sheen of authenticity, but this shows he has not stepped back from his own admirable career in the business to create an engaging read. The read instead plods through its policework (pun intended), and ends with not a shock, never a cliffhanger, and completely twist-free.
It's an A-B read then, apparently leavened by historical truth and HAVING A POINT. Persson can set up scenarios perfectly, and write about them (if only, it seems, at too much length), and can create a diverse set of personalities to fight amongst themselves in solving the crimes. With a full oeuvre - and there are blurbs at the back here for two books that are not yet published in English - he might have an all-enveloping, TV-friendly Scandi-crime franchise of note. Those appeal to others a lot more than they do to me. I'm of the opinion, ultimately, that life is too short and this is too long.
I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.
The Winter of the Lions by Jan Costin Wagner and Anthea Bell (translator) shows murder will never end in the far north of Europe.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Another Time, Another Life by Leif G W Persson at Amazon.com.
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