Sunday, June 27, 2021

#33: The Summer of Kim Novak by Hakan Nesser

In early 60s Sweden, two teenage boys plan to spend an idyllic summer at a ramshackle lake cabin, but the real world intrudes with a mysterious murder in Hakan Nesser's The Summer of Kim Novak.

Nesser has written a popular series of police procedurals over the years; but this novel is a departure, more of a coming-of-age story and a portrait of Swedish life, with the murder unsolved but wrapped up rather enigmatically in the denouement.

Although the teens swim, bicycle, and meet girls (including the one from the title, a substitute teacher at the school who looks like Kim Novak and ends up dating an older brother), the storytelling is infused with melancholy and dread.  One kids' mom is an alcoholic, and his dad abusive; the other's mother is terminally ill.  The wide cast of characters include people on the margins, for various reasons.  The tension cranks up when the older brother is accused of the murder.

As much an exercise in literary fiction as a mystery; worthwhile for fans of either.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

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