by Martin Holmen
It's summer in Stockholm, and the city is sweltering in the grip of a rare heatwave while fascists and communists beat each other bloody in the streets. Harry Kvist has had enough. It's time for him to leave. But first he has some business to take care of. His old friend and ex-lover, Reverend Gabrielsson, has been murdered, and the police are more interested in anti-Semitic rumours than finding the truth.
Kvist investigates the only way he knows how, with his fists, uncovering a Nazi terrorist plot and a cabal of corrupt cops. Before long he finds himself caught in the middle of a turf war between two of the city's most brutal gangs. Can he fight his way out of one last corner and find a way to freedom, or has Kvist finally taken a punch too many?
Translated into English by A. A. Prime, Slugger is the third and final thriller in Martin Holmen’s Stockholm trilogy is another exciting ride of noir.
Don’t expect the usual cold, dark environment of Scandi Noir, this time it’s summer in Stockholm, and it's sweltering. Harry Kvist is smoking a cigar, looking for his next bottle of Pilsner. The setting is not unlike the wild west, with little justice and a load of bent coppers.
Kvist, a hard man for hire, has been employed to drag a pregnant woman to an abortionist. Only, she wants to keep baby. She’s crying, appealing to his better nature, says she’ll leave town. He lets her go, his good deed for the year, but his reputation is risked, he can’t be thought of in his job as going soft. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that he has a daughter of his own, in America with her mother.
The setting is a tough world of poverty, rival gangs and no go zones: everyone has their territory and know who owns where.
Getting himself in the middle of a crime, Kvist is caught in a dangerous position with gangsters he has history with. He ends up in a warehouse and must escape. It’s not long before blackshirts, gangsters and coppers are all on his tail.
With gold bars and guns at stake Kvist is a magnet for the bad guys' bullets. All this is set during the build up to the Second World War and it adds an extra layer of despair knowing that war awaits.
The undertaker that Kvist lives with, Lundin, is back in this, the third of the series. He has one foot in the grave and he’s not the only one, as rival gangs fight to be top dog.
Kvist has some tough decisions to make as his personal relationships are intertwined with his threatening existence. His married lover Rickardsson, himself a gangster, complicates matters as do the police. There’s a pro-Nazi movement that’s clouding justice. Take Pastor Gabrielsson who has been savagely murdered by Jews, or so the police say. Kvist knows there’s a lack of trust at every corner.
Can he get out of Dodge and get to America with his life intact?
It’s a shocking, edge-of-the-seat read. Simply put - Wow. What a trilogy. What an ending. One of the best thrillers of the year.
About the author:
Martin Holmén is a Swedish author of noir fiction. His critically acclaimed debut - the first instalment of the Harry Kvist trilogy - CLINCH was released in Sweden and Australia in 2015, and the United Kingdom and France in 2016. The second one DOWN FOR THE COUNT are now published in Sweden (2016) and other countries will follow. SLUGGER is the third and final instalment