Room No. 10: A Chief Inspector Erik Winter Novel
Chief Inspector Erik Winter of the Gothenburg, Sweden Police Department is well known in Sweden and Germany; in the United States, not so much. Publication of the Winter series in the U.S. has been hit-or-miss, to say the least. Hopefully the publication of ROOM NO. 10, the seventh in the series by Åke Edwardson (and ably translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles) will make Winter a more familiar figure and encourage U.S. publication of at least a few of the other books in the series. Fans of Nordic noir, whose numbers continue to grow, should welcome this challenging volume.
"Fans of Nordic noir, whose numbers continue to grow, should welcome this challenging volume. While ROOM NO. 10 brings U.S. readers into the series at a somewhat advanced point, Edwardson does a fine job of filling in whatever backstory may be necessary to keep newcomers from floundering."
While ROOM NO. 10 brings U.S. readers into the series at a somewhat advanced point, Edwardson does a fine job of filling in whatever backstory may be necessary to keep newcomers from floundering. Winter, who has been with law enforcement for almost 20 years, is called upon to investigate a murder that dovetails in a rather bizarre manner with a case, still unsolved, that he was tasked with when he was still a rookie. In the present, the body of a young woman named Paula Ney has been found hanging in Room No. 10 of the Hotel Revy, a down-heel establishment best known for catering to transients and prostitutes. Winter recalls that almost two decades previously, a married woman named Ellen Borge had suddenly disappeared without a trace; her last known sighting had been, remarkably enough, in Room No. 10 of the Hotel Revy as well. That case has haunted Winter’s subconscious for years, and he feels that the disappearance then and the murder now are linked by something far greater than coincidence.
There are few clues concerning Ney’s murder; perhaps chief among them is a letter that she had left for her parents and her right hand, which has been painted a brilliant white. Ney’s mother and father say they have no clue why someone would have killed their daughter, yet Winter is almost certain that they are hiding or concealing something that may or may not directly bear on his investigation. Somewhat at loose ends, Winter begins to revisit Ellen Borge’s disappearance, hoping that something in that case might offer a link to Ney’s murder. And, indeed, a tenuous, almost unimportant element of the old case provides a slender thread of evidence involving the new one. Winter is also racing against time, with the clock ticking not only due to fear that the killer will strike again but also by the approach of Winter’s long-delayed leave of absence. And when the killer does strike again, Winter has no idea how close he is to becoming a victim of the murderer himself.
ROOM NO. 10 bounces back and forth in time throughout the narrative, between the story’s present and the investigation into Borge’s disappearance some 20 years before as the similarities and links between the two cases are slowly revealed. Things have the potential to become a bit confusing as a result, but it keeps the reader paying attention. Edwardson’s primary focus, though, is Winter, who evidences a weariness with his job and the horrors that he beholds on a daily basis. It is obvious that the guy needs a rest, one that is waiting for him once this case --- and hopefully that open one from two decades before --- is closed.
Winter may be running on vapors by the end of the book, but he is still running, and that makes him all the more real. Hopefully, we will see more of Winter on this side of the Atlantic and soon.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 22, 2013