cover image The Summer of Kim Novak

The Summer of Kim Novak

Håkan Nesser, trans. from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel. World, $16.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-64286-019-1

At the start of this moving elegy for lost innocence from Nesser (the Inspector Van Veeteren mysteries), 49-year-old Erik, the book’s narrator, promises to tell the reader about “a terrible and tragic event” that occurred the summer he was 14. In 1962, as Erik’s mother is dying of cancer, his grieving father sends the boy to the family’s ramshackle lake cabin with 14-year-old Edmund, a fellow student Erik hardly knows, and Erik’s older brother, a reporter who intends to write the Great Swedish Novel that summer. After a lazy month of swimming and fantasizing, handball champion Berra Albertsson is found dead in a gravel parking spot near where the boys are staying, his skull caved in, and his fiancée, Ewa Kaludis, the boys’ substitute teacher and the object of their dreams, is a suspect. Erik and Edmund embark on a protracted murder investigation that leads them into the mysteries of sex. Nesser sensitively probes the agonies and ecstasies of adolescence, making this an exquisite example of Nordic noir’s ability to reveal the darkest emotional depths beneath a cloudless summer sky. Agent: Elisabet Brannstrom, Bonnier Rights. (June)