Title/Author: The Wolf and The Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
Publisher: Atria Books
In a nutshell (Publisher):
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 led 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 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.
Verdict: Be warned! This might not be everyone’s cup of
Let me start off by saying this: The Wolf and the Watchman is a dark tale and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Graphic and gruesome scenes aside, this beguiling and gripping tale had me holding on to every word till the very end.
The prologue sets its tone with a quote from Thomas Thorild (1793) “Guile begets guile, violence begets violence.”
The year – 1793, place – Stockholm, Sweden, one year or so after the murder of King Gustav III and was now ruled by the much-feared oppressor, Gustaf Adolf Reuterholm. Everyone was operating with their own agenda in mind. It was a world and time where only the fittest survive.
Meet 4 main characters: Mickel Cardwell, Cecil Winge, Kristofer Blix and Anna-Stina, whose goals for survival made their paths crossed and lives changed. A mission brought these two characters of opposite personalities – Cardell and Winge – together. They were to find the killer of a mutilated body Cardell found in a lake.
Their quest brought them to Blix, a 17-yo from Stockholm whose adventurous and ambitious self got himself buried deep in debts, which later had to be paid off by serving a mad master’s inhumane, horrendous request. Blix and Anna’s paths crossed when Anna, out of kindness, offered Blix the help he needed and in return, he saved her life.
Its rich, layered characters and atmospheric setting took me deep into the dark alleys, passageways and homes of the deprived, poor, hunted, punished and forgotten, making this experience unforgettable.
This tale blurred the lines of good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate. Makes one question, is it right for us to play God when things need to be righted? Or let life take its course? Is there humanity in this dog-eat-dog world? Or is every man for himself?
This is a stunning debut, and it’s brilliant on many levels. Looking forward to reading more from the author, which reminds me,…got to go get a copy of this for myself!
Thank you Netgalley and Atria Books for providing me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
*Quotes included here are from an advanced readers copy and are subject to change upon final publication.
Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? If not, do you intend to read it? Please let me know your thoughts!
Till then, HAPPY READING!