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Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End: The Story of a Crime (1) Hardcover – September 14, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307377458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307377456
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The apparent suicide of an American journalist in 1970s Stockholm propels Persson's ponderous English debut, the first of a trilogy. The victim, John Krassner, was working on a book detailing the exploits of his uncle, Col. John Buchanan, an OSS agent in the years following WWII and Buchanan's ties to a now high-ranking Swedish politician known by the code name "Pilgrim." The Swedish secret police, who were hearing chatter concerning threats to the Swedish prime minister, had been keeping an eye on Krassner at the time of his death. Curious about Krassner after discovering a personal connection to the case, police superintendent Lars Johansson begins his own inquiry and unearths more than he bargained for, including disparate pieces of a vast political conspiracy. In contrast to the work of Stieg Larsson, this thriller lacks both memorable characters and a streamlined plot.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The unsolved 1986 assassination of Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme hovers behind much of contemporary Scandinavian crime fiction, often as a watershed moment—the point at which the country’s slow decline into American-style crime and chaos kicked into high gear. Now Swedish writer Persson, in his U.S. debut, tackles the Palme case head-on, positing a believable scenario in which the prime minister’s death is almost an afterthought to another killing and its cover-up. It is a classic story of bureaucratic bungling and investigatory incompetence in which a deranged American journalist, convinced that his CIA-agent uncle worked with the young prime minister, sets out to write an exposé and winds up dead, inadvertently starting a random chain of events that leads to tragedy. Persson layers his incredibly dense novel, the first in a trilogy, with numerous parallel story lines and a plethora of characters, most of whom fail to capture our imagination. Clearly, the publisher is hoping for a Steig Larsson–type success here, but this is a very different book by a less-skilled storyteller. The vision of bureaucracy run amok that drives the premise is spot-on, but the onslaught of detail is, in the end, overwhelming. --Bill Ott

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
At the center of this Swedish espionage thriller is the death of an American journalist, John P. Krassner, circa 1988. Was it an accident, a suicide, or murder? The facts known at the opening is that first his body and then his boot falls from the 16th floor of a student dormitory. The boot struck and killed a Pomeranian named Charlie. Charlie's owner, Vindel, is trying to recount the seconds between the body and the boot falling from the window.

After this wry and arresting opening, the reader is plunged into a dense and plodding world of Swedish politics. The characters and their careers are portrayed in all their Byzantine splendor, from the intricacies of the police and secret police (SePo) departments; to the police surveillance squad and covert operations; inside the Swedish Parliament; as well as the connections to WW II, the Cold War, and the U.S. central intelligence agency. There are many circuitous routes in the midst of this story, from the Russian communists to the beginnings of Sweden's system of neutrality.

Lars Johansson is a solitary man, a "real policeman," and the police superintendent on his way to becoming the head of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He is a perspicacious type who seems to see around corners and figure out how things stand. The case comes to his attention from his best friend, Detective Chief Inspector, Bo Jarnebring, (from the department's surveillance squad). He received Krassner's belongings, including his boots, which had a hollow heel and a slip of paper stating "an honorable cop, Lars Johansson," complete with Johansson's address and phone number and a key to a safety deposit box.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Maine Colonial TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A young American journalist named Krassner falls to his death from an apartment building, his shoe falling several seconds later. Stockholm's police department deem him a "do it yourselfer," or a suicide. The secret police, who had been tracking Krassner's activities, come to the same conclusion. But Lars Martin Johansson, an inspector with Sweden's National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, isn't so sure and quietly goes about his own investigation.

The description of the activities of Sweden's various police and security agencies and personnel expands into the government, including the prime minister and his mysterious special advisor. Though never named, the prime minister is clearly Olof Palme, who was assassinated on the street in 1986. Palme, a Social Democrat, was the object of virulent right-wing hatred and regularly accused by them of being an agent of the Soviet Union. The mystery of his murder has never been solved.

Persson presents a possible solution to the murder, but the persons responsible are less important than his key accusation, which is that the crime can be chalked up to the general sloth, bigotry, corruption, stupidity and infighting of the police and Sweden's huge and unwieldy security apparatus.

Persson had a longtime career as a psychological profiler and adviser to Sweden's Ministry of Justice. He very much focuses on the psychology of his huge cast of characters in the development of his story. When asked if it was his intent to profile Swedish law enforcement, his response was: "I have very humble ambitions when it comes to writing novels: A story worth telling, thrilling with a documentary tone, if possible with some humor in it."

This book is long, complex and darkly satirical.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Baird VINE VOICE on November 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End a while back. It is a dense book and clearly divided the reviewers. Persson is a demanding writer with a large cast of characters. There is a fair amount of important background information of the modern history of Europe and the Cold War. Some of his cops are beyond bunglers. He hints at a fictional solution to the unsolved assassination of Sweden's prime minister. He has the background to do so. I read an advance copy of his newest, A Person of Interest and thought it better. It is the second of a trilogy. This is not easy reading, but is superior to Stieg Larsson and will reward the patient.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. O'Grady on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Persson certainly has a cynical perspective on the activities of Swedish policemen (secret and otherwise)and, since he's presumably in a position to know, that portrayal may be perfectly realistic. Hearing about one incompetent, or bored, or perverted policemen after another can keep the reader's interest (at least this reader's) for only so long, especially since none of the characters are drawn in such a way that we develop any particular concern for them. I get his point: the typical Swedish policemen is narrow, smug, out of touch, often brutish, socially inept and seldom effective. Fine. If he says so, I believe him. But does it take 551 pages to establish that? In fairness, there are some interesting plot twists and the reader certainly learns something about the political situation in Sweden beginning from the 1960s and that's certainly worth something. Still, it would have been nice to acquire that information a little less painfully.
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