Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review of "Evil Water" [31]

Evil Water by Inger Wolf
Black Cat Edition
December 15, 2012, 269 pages

"Two women disappear without a trace, and the same autumn a farmer on the outskirts of Ã…rhus finds them murdered in suitcases under a heap of stone. The skin of one woman is filled with the letter Y and the other has a rare flower in her hair. Inspector Daniel Trokic is leading the case which goes in several directions: to a tribal population in Africa, religious insanity and a horrifying meeting with leeches. When a third woman disappears, Trokic is under pressure to find out what the killer wants to say with his macabre scenery and rituals."

The missing women seem to have no connection to each other, no people, no places, no activities in common. But they do share one important thing, their long auburn hair. In fact, they look so similar, they could be sisters. It seems their killer, their sick, very twisted killer has a very specific type. And a particularly horrible way of killing them.

a leech..uugh
I will warn you, this is a story about a twisted, psychologically damaged serial killer...and the killer is not the only one in this book with a few issues. From the opening chapter, told from a victims point of view, we know we are in for a creepy ride.
The plot is clever, the discoveries about the identity of the killer and their motivation building up in a realistic way with a nice twist at the end that took me by surprise. That is the good news.

But the news is not all good.
I am not sure who translated the book from the author's native Danish, but it seems to cause a few problems. Sometimes a sentence seems oddly structured and much of the dialogue is very awkward, honestly not the way policemen would talk. It is not a deal breaker but still a noticeable issue and rather distracting.

Also the characters are not as well developed as I might like, not least of all the lead police detective Daniel Trokic. On more than one occasion I got him and his second in command confused with each other, not a great sign. Again, while not a deal breaker, it is something that keeps the book from moving from the good to the very good level. This is Wolf's first book to be translated into English, but not the first in the series. Perhaps that is part of the problem because I never felt like I knew Trokic's story. The setting in Arhus, Denmark adds some interest. I always find it interesting to see the differences in how the police departments of other countries operate and some of the differences in their daily lives.

Overall, Evil Water is a nice addition to the list of Scandinavian mysteries out there, if not the very best.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.


  1. It always such a shame when an awkward translation gets in the way. Glad it wasn't a deal breaker.

  2. Sounds interesting - too bad it wasn't translated better.

    1. I wonder..since it does not say anywhere who the translator was...if the author might have translated it herself. I read somewhere that she had worked as a translator but it did not say what languages. Either that or the translator wanted no credit, and I could see their point.

  3. I can get past awkward translation if everything else is compelling. But don't you feel sometimes that murder mystery writers are just trying to outdo each other? See who can give us the biggest gross-out, the sickest mind, the most twisted ways of killing a person? I would rather they go heavy on tension and character honestly.

    1. I think there is room for both.
      I don't mind the more graphic stuff and it is what some authors...and readers.. like.
      Personally, I find psychological suspense more interesting, more effective, but to each their own

  4. So, are there two types of serial killers? The basic serial killer and then the "twisted, psychologically damaged" serial killer?

    1. very smart aren't we?
      well...I think some serial killer are more twisted than others. If you are just going around shooting people at random, you might be on one end of the scale....draining the victim's blood or cutting them up while they are awake might be toward the other end.
      maybe it has to do with personal involvement and interaction.
      And imagination!

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