It’s been a while since I read any Scandinavian crime fiction and I had a hunt around to see what was sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. I’d enjoyed the last couple of books by Åke Edwardson and I find it strange that his books aren’t promoted in quite the same way as say, Håkan Nesser. His latest offering Sail of Stone turned out to be an interesting, if slow-paced read which explored some of the historic links between Scandinavia and Scotland.
Chief Inspector Erik Winter of the Gothenburg police department is contacted by an ex-girlfriend whose father has disappeared. The missing man had received a note referring to the disappearance of his own father during the Second World War after his boat sank off the coast of Scotland. Winter assumes the missing man has travelled to Aberdeen to investigate his father’s disappearance, and despite his own family priorities, Winter becomes sucked into the case. Meanwhile, Detective Aneta Djnali investigates the disappearance of a woman whom she believes to have been abused by her husband. The woman’s family seem determined to prevent Aneta from investigating the disappearance and deny that there is a problem. As Eric and Aneta delve deeper into their respective cases, the secrets of families and the lengths they will go to ensure they they remain hidden becomes apparent.
This is a difficult book to review because the slow moving narrative made it hard to ever completely engage with the story. The account of Eric’s investigation and his travels to Scotland to look into the man’s disappearance was by far the most interesting aspect of the story. Although there are clearly links between Scotland and Scandinavia, Eric seems overwhelmed by the very strangeness of the place and looking at the granite city through a stranger’s eyes was fascinating.
In his investigations, Winter is reunited with the British policeman Steve MacDonald who has appeared in previous books. They have an easy going relationship based on mutual respect and although the resolution of the case was slightly unbelievable I still enjoyed it. The investigation undertaken by Aneta in Sweden was more difficult to engage with and without giving any spoilers, I was left perplexed by the whole incident at the end of the book.
Edwardson is a good writer whose character and landscape observations are his main strengths. The fragmented story won’t appeal to everyone but I will be reading future books by this writer.