One morning in the autumn of 1793, watchman Mikel Cardell is awakened from his drunken slumber with reports of a body seen floating in the Larder, once a pristine lake on Stockholm’s Southern Isle, now a rancid bog. Efforts to identify the bizarrely mutilated corpse are entrusted to incorruptible lawyer Cecil Winge, who enlists Cardell’s help to solve the case. But time is short: Winge’s health is failing, the monarchy is in shambles, and whispered conspiracies and paranoia abound.
Winge and Cardell become immersed in a brutal world of guttersnipes and thieves, mercenaries and madams. From a farmer’s son who is lead down a treacherous path when he seeks his fortune in the capital to an orphan girl consigned to the workhouse by a pitiless parish priest, their gruesome investigation peels back layer upon layer of the city’s labyrinthine society. The rich and the poor, the pious and the fallen, the living and the dead—all collide and interconnect with the body pulled from the lake.
Breathtakingly bold and intricately constructed, THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN (Atria Books; March 5, 2019; ISBN: 9781501196775; $28.00) brings to life the crowded streets, gilded palaces, and dark corners of late-eighteenth-century Stockholm, offering a startling vision of the crimes we commit in the name of justice, and the sacrifices we make in order to survive.
Advance Praise for The Wolf and the Watchman
“Natt och Dag writes sensory, horror-inducing descriptions of the lives and deaths of the poor inhabitants of Stockholm. At the same time, his characters almost spring off the page, they are so human and so fully realized. Natt och Dag doesn't apologize for human nature, nor does he excuse our crimes and basest cruelties, but his deep dive into the dark corners of our psyches, as well as this harsh time in history, is both chilling and thought-provoking. Relentless, well-written, and nearly impossible to put down.”
—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“[A] masterly first novel... The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers named this the best debut novel of 2017, and U.S. readers will be likewise impressed.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“For those who like their mysteries dark, this is a standout. The characterization is excellent, as is the evocation of eighteenth-century Stockholm, an uncommon historical setting that provides a vibrant backdrop for this unusual mystery. Natt och Dag's side-plots dovetail neatly, his pacing is skillful, and he explores with aplomb his novel's main theme, Homo homini lupus est—Man is wolf to man.”
“The sense of a ticking clock pervades Niklas Natt och Dag’s swift-paced, cinematic first novel... In some ways, The Wolf and the Watchman calls to mind another auspicious debut murder mystery set in an unfamiliar place and time: Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It’s been nearly 40 years since that foreign-language historical thriller captured the world’s imagination, thoroughly engrossing readers and propelling its author into international stardom. So we’re about due, and Natt och Dag is certainly a worthy candidate.”
“A dark novel, [The Wolf and the Watchman] draws the reader into the atmosphere of the story: the cold and bleak climate, its unusual characters, the immersive culture and politics of the city of Stockholm. This is a masterpiece of a novel – be prepared for a great reading experience while the plot steadily unravels. Although clues are discovered throughout the investigation, the reader must wait until the final chapter to discover the cause of this horrific crime.”
—Historical Novels Review
“In this wicked historical thriller set in 1793 Stockholm, a mutilated body is the start to an investigation that brings in every class and every corner of the city, in what promises to be one of the most well-researched historicals of the year.”
—CrimeReads (The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019: Part 1)
“Complex and richly realized... This is Natt Och Dag’s first published novel, but it seems too skillful and too assured to be his first writing... [He] surely has more fine work ahead of him.”
—New York Journal of Books
“An excellent story with corkscrew twists and a wonderfully clever ending, completely worthy of Cecil Winge’s splendid mind. Winge and Cardell are thoroughly engaging characters, and they give the whole book a powerful heart"
—Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
“Thrilling, unnerving, clever, and beautiful.”
—Fredrik Backman, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Select International Praise for The Wolf and the Watchman*
“Sex, corruption and a limbless corpse all star in a detective novel set in 18th-century Sweden that taking the literary world by storm… Already a prize-winning bestseller in Sweden, the grisly but moral literary page-turner is set to be published in 31 countries.”
—The Sunday Times (UK)
“An utterly impressive debut…Brilliantly rendered atmosphere, unsettling portrayals of society, written with a perfect balance of period-specific detail and modern storytelling techniques.”
—Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)
“A literary tour-de-force… a smart and suspenseful story that you’ll remember for a long time to come.”
—Verdens Gang (Norway)
“Magnificent ‘Stockholm Noir’ and an excellent debut… A bullseye of a historical novel… [Niklas Natt och Dag] writes glisteningly and organically.”
“[An] exceptionally thrilling and well-written novel inspired by the classics…an enticing mix of Dickens,
Balzac and Céline.”
—Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium)
“Wonderfully written [with] detailed descriptions of locations and characters and a well-crafted
—De Standaard (Belgium)
“A masterfully written, pitch-black thriller.”
*published internationally under the title 1793
This is a story so chock full of emotionally compelling goodness that one is never quite sure where to focus one's attention.
Though this book is a work of fiction. It is quite clear that it functions also as a commentary on life and society in this region of Sweden, at this time.
The suffering, the apathy, the injustice.
Winge with the loss of his future due to consumption.
Cardell with the loss of his arm and sanity to the war.
This book is in part a mystery. However, the social drama is by far the most compelling aspects of the read.
The sheer amounts of apathy to the plight of both death and suffering that pervades the social strata here. Nothing short of mind-boggling.
Even in the face of what is clearly a most horrendous torture and murder.
The supporting characters that the two meet in their efforts to find justice for the most unfortunate of souls.
And the way that other stories cause the first to morph and grow.
Gives readers a very eye-opening understanding of the dynamics of the often futile struggle between those with power. However minuscule the amount, and those they choose to exploit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Niklas Natt och Dag ("Night and Day") is a member of the oldest surviving noble family in Sweden. He enjoys playing the guitar, mandolin, violin, and the Japanese bamboo flute. THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN, his first novel, was named the Best Debut of 2017 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers and is being published in thirty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and their two sons.