Fiction. Translated from the Swedish by Laura Wideburg. Sudden murder and the resulting psychological tension are the hallmarks of Inger Frimansson’s acclaimed thrillers. In ISLAND OF NAKED WOMEN, Tobias, an author of mystery novels, must return to the family farm after his father became incapacitated due to a fall from the hayloft. Tobias resents his father’s judgmental attitude, but he finds the allure of his father’s young wife Sabina hard to resist. Meanwhile, Hardy, the hired hand, scoffs at Tobias’s city ways, while encouraging Sabina’s mentally challenged son Adam to turn into an Elvis impersonator; and Ingelize, who runs a nearby riding school, finds Tobias irresistible. The rural life becomes increasingly claustrophobic for Tobias, but before he can return to the city, death strikes a hard blow and chaos ensues.
Inger Frimansson (born November 14, 1944 in Stockholm) is a popular Swedish novelist and crime writer. Having previously worked for 30 years as a journalist, her first novel The Double Bed (Dubbelsängen) was published in 1984. Since then she has written around twenty-five books including poetry, short stories, and books for children. Her breakthrough was with Godnatt, min älskade in 1998. Her crime novels are best described as psychological thrillers. http://www.frimansson.se/
Other translated works
- 2007 Good Night, My Darling (Godnatt, min älskade, 1998), Pleasure Boat Studio, translated by Laura A. Wideburg
- 2008 The Shadow in the Water (Skuggan i vattnet, 2005), Pleasure Boat Studio, translated by Laura A. Wideburg
- 2013 The Cat Did Not Die, (Katten som inte dog), Pleasure Boat Studio, translated by Laura A. Wideburg
- 1998 – Best Swedish Crime Novel Award for Godnatt, min älskade.
- 2005 – Best Swedish Crime Novel Award for Skuggan i vattnet.
- 2008 – Gold – Best Translated Book for Good Night, my Darling (Pleasure Boat Studio) translated by Laura A. Wideburg by ForeWord Magazine
Publishers Weekly –
When Tobias Elmkvist, a Stockholm novelist with career troubles, visits his farmer father, Carl, in the country, he finds himself attracted to Carl’s younger partner, Sabina Johansson, in this Hitchcockian tale from Frimansson (The Shadow in the Water), who’s twice won the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award. Shortly after Tobias and Sabina give in to their desires in a barn tack-room, a disapproving local, Hardy Lindström, walks in and confronts them. Afraid of blackmail, Tobias plunges a handy screwdriver into Lindström’s throat, apparently killing him. Later, after the writer returns to the barn and sees no trace of the body or blood, he wonders whether he imagined the fatal assault. Meanwhile, the police start to look into Lindström’s disappearance. Frimansson vividly conveys Tobias’s inner torments in a hypnotic psychological study sure to gain her new American readers.
Kirkus Reviews –
On a remote Swedish island, simmering tensions lead to murder, and the aftermath is even worse. While pitching hay in his barn, grim farmer Carl Sigvard falls and breaks his leg. The job of herding his cattle on nearby Shame Island falls to his new, much younger wife Sabina and his son Tobias. A struggling writer who’s just published his first novel, Tobias reluctantly leaves the city and his girlfriend Marit to help his father, with whom he has little in common. Negotiating a relationship with coarse Sabina is another challenge. Also on hand to annoy Tobias are both Sabina’s imposing, mentally challenged son, an aspiring Elvis impersonator, and sneering farm hand Hardy, who’s always lurking in the shadows and contemplating mischief. Ingelize, a childhood schoolmate who’s recently changed the ‘s’ in her birth name to a ‘z’ unexpectedly shows up with a paperback copy of Tobias’s novel, requesting an autograph. In no time, she confesses a longstanding crush and proposes that the two of them cohabit, a plan that offers more solitude for Tobias’ writing and more time to help Ingelize with her pony rental business. The stress of so many abrasive personalities in close quarters leads to a violent murder. From that point on, the plot turns more psychological, and Frimansson (The Shadow in the Water, 2008, etc.) adds the suggestion that the victim may be alive after all. Incongruous title aside, offbeat characters and taut, controlled prose make for a gripping read.
International Noir Fiction –
The title of Inger Frimansson’s 3rd novel to be published in English (translated from the Swedish by Laura Wideburg) suggests a soft-core porn movie until the narrative offers an explanation: Shame Island, where the farm family at the center of the story pastures its cattle, supposedly earned that name because in earlier times women accused of adultery were taken there, naked and with no food, and left to die…. The story presents effectively the ease with which murder may occur and the immense consequences that can ensue, both literal and psychological. Tobias [the main character, an author] doesn’t write psychological crime novels like Frimansson; he seems to be writing fairly conventional detective stories. In fact, he seems to be condescending to the genre that his own life is now embodying (which is a clever way of reinforcing the ‘reality’ of the novel). The tragic tone of the novel builds slowly, with numerous excursions into farm life and basic bodily functions, toward a descent into the darker aspects of human emotion. The novel is modern in many ways, but also suggests the rural novels of Knut Hamsun and other European writers in the early to mid 20th century. Frimansson’s palette has deepened and broadened with Island of the Naked Women, into the depths of the noir tradition.