Someone wanted the boys from Skavböke dead. That’s what they said in the town, afterwards.
It’s a chilly December night, and a heavy blanket of snow has fallen upon the quaint town of Skavböke. With doors unlocked and car keys idly sitting in the ignition, the locals sleep peacefully – because this is a safe place. For now, they are blissfully unaware of the car that is crashed against a tree by a nearby field, steering wheel marked with blood, the lifeless body of an 18-year-old boy in the trunk.
As the 1990’s draw to a close, eighteen-year-old Mikael Söderström is found brutally murdered, leaving the town in shock. The case lands on the desk of Siri Bengtsson, a young police officer, and Gerd Pettersson, a seasoned veteran investigator, who soon realize that there is more to this crime than meets the eye. And they keep returning to two young men: Sander Eriksson and Killian Persson.
Those who knew Sander and Killian said they were inseparable. Though polar opposites, they had been best friends since anyone could remember, and could always be seen walking side by side. But now their differing dreams for the future is causing a rift between them. While Sander is eager to get out of town and head to university in Stockholm, Killian wants to stay in Skavböke, start a family and find work locally. On the night of the murder, they both attendthe same party as the victim, Mikael, and a number of traces lead the police to Killian. But when Killian is found dead after a car accident on Christmas Day morning, the police are left without a suspect and the case remains officially unsolved.
Decades later, Sander returns to Skavböke to attend the funeral of Killian’s father. While he is there, the town is once again thrown into darkness when another murder shocks the community. As the police search for answers, old wounds are reopened, and they find themselves circling back to that unsolved murder all those years ago.
The Living and the Dead is a gracefully crafted literary crime novel that explores the intricacies of guilt and mercy. Renowned author and criminologist Christoffer Carlsson creates a riveting drama that delves deep into the themes of departure, desperation and self-deceit. In this atmospheric drama, Carlsson weaves a complex narrative that transports the reader into a world where the past and the present collide, and where the portal between the living and the dead is wide open.
“If you think high suspense and high quality: Christoffer Carlsson. […] It is so well written, of such high quality and such beautiful language, so cleverly constructed. […] It is a multilayered book about the searching for the truth. […] This is a story about a town in change, it is Sweden in miniature. There are all sorts of characters in the area: the know-it-all, the self-appointed leader, the smart one, the handy one, the mean one, the calculating one… You don’t want to leave this town until you are done. It is not a violent crime novel. For those of you who don’t want to read crime novels: think again. This is an exhilarating novel about Sweden going through great change.”
Go’ Kväll (SE)
“Departure, guilt and mercy are at the heart of this crime mystery, where Christoffer Carlsson’s writing is gorgeous and compelling, about life and death.”
Svensk Damtidning (SE)
“[Christoffer Carlsson] returns yet again to the area where he grew up in Halland and to the 1990’s. There and then a teenage party ends in tragedy. One is murdered, another one leaves. The crime remains unsolved, and the consequences linger right up to our time. There is melancholy in Christoffer Carlsson’s novels. Damaged people, lives that have gone to waste. The resolution is brilliantly executed and makes the reader frantically turn page after page with a rising pulse.”
Ingalill Mosander, Aftonbladet (SE)
“The author has developed into one of the country’s very finest. […] The book is a mixture of whodunnit, psychological suspense, coming of age, and police novel. It is told pleasantly slow. Because the language is so poetically descriptive and beautiful, as a reader you want to linger on the page. It is well written and interestingly thrilling. […] The beautiful language is not predictable. A wonderful minor-key story about grief, loss, hopelessness, love and death.”
DAST Magazine (SE)
“The Living and the Dead, which is told in two different timelines, is a low-key novel, where drama and action give way for internal ruminations and slow, but methodical, police work. However, this is not saying that it’s not thrilling. Carlsson writes very well, sometimes with an almost poetic sharpness. The tone is earnest, melancholic, and compassionate. […] the author knows his characters well, and he feels for them, even the ones who commit misdeeds. He manages to make his characters come alive and to chisel out authentic people.”
“Christoffer Carlsson harbors a great love for the incapable, the ones who are unable to do anything but lie and ruin things for themselves and for others. That is what makes the world in this book so complete, so true. And Carlsson does not only write page-turners, he also has a suggestive language, unpretentious yet beautiful, which makes it an extraordinary experience to read. I enjoy being in his world. […] The Halland Suite begins with Under the Storm and Blaze Me a Sun. Each of the novels are complete in their own right, but I don’t see a reason not to read them all. They are unique and are of a very special atmosphere.”
“Reading Christoffer Carlsson’s new crime novel The Living and the Dead makes me want to jump in the car and drive to Skavböke, a community in Halland where everyone seems to know everyone. I want to see the places he describes with my own eyes, feel the atmosphere and breathe the same air as the book’s characters. […] Christoffer Carlsson’s language is poetic and meticulous, and the story has a strong sense of urgency. The reader is drawn into the events, and although the pace is unrushed, it is always exciting. But you have to be alert so that you have a chance to pick up the discreetly deployed clues.”
Kalmar Läns Tidning (SE)
“Christoffer Carlsson is a master when it comes to describing rural areas and small towns. [The Living and the Dead] is set in Halland, in Skavböke, during Christmas 1999 and many years later, in the present. In 1999, everyone worries about the turn of the millennium and the local teenagers organize a party which is followed by a murder, and a series of other shocking events. One of the main characters, Sander, returns many years later and it is clear that the past still haunts everyone. Once again, Carlsson has accomplished a beautiful and engaging story about grief and loss, about memories and guilt. And it is so incredibly well written!”
Folkbladet Västerbotten (SE)
“There is a vulnerability and melancholy in The Living and the Dead that pierces the reader’s heart. It is impossible to not be captivated by Christoffer Carlsson’s portrayal of the leap into adulthood and where we end up in life, how we, for better or for worse, always have our roots and what dreams really look like in the end. […] There is, of course, a slowly building suspense in the crime mystery itself, in all the kaleidoscopic images from then and now that are slowly but surely transformed into a surprising whole. […] Christoffer Carlsson has, ever since his debut with The Case of Vincent Franke in 2010, found his very own ways within the crime genre, while his love for it shines through in the both playful and respectful way he handles it. He never compromises on the literary quality, and stylistically it is always a pleasure to read his books. And the question is whether or not The Living and the Dead is the most beautiful thing he has ever written?”
Gunilla Wedding, Skånska Dagbladet (SE)
“Carlsson takes us on a thrilling journey, filled with both interesting plot twists as well as complex character portrayals. […] Christoffer Carlsson has long been one of our most interesting Swedish crime writers. His books are characterized by a strong love for the crime genre, but also by an unusual tenderness for people and places living on the fringes of society. He also has a language and a technique that makes his novels a cut above the rest. Through the Halland Suite, all this has been given a chance to blossom and become more and more personal, as in The Living and the Dead. The countryside outside of Halmstad, where the author himself grew up, is a literary landscape that has now found its place in the history of Swedish literature and crime fiction.”
Ystads Allehanda (SE)
“Christoffer Carlsson is one of the best in today’s generation of crime writers, with a language beyond the ordinary in the suspense world. His writing is thoughtfully and nuanced about sorrow and disappointment, betrayal and longing.”
Lotta Olsson, Dagens Nyheter (SE)
“Carlsson allows the passing of time to be felt and to hurt, without losing suspense and nerve. However, it is the portrayal of these teenage boys’ friendship that is the novel’s strongest element; every movement and syllable is convincing in their attempt to find themselves in an unreliable reality. The language breathes with the people who come and go in time and space as we are led through the darkness.”
“These roughly 400 pages are a pure demonstration of the art of combining suspense, milieu, chiseled character portrayals, existential questions, zeitgeist and melancholy in one novel. […] There is something about [Christoffer Carlsson’s] philosophical expositions that makes his linguistically beautifully prose something that is usually only attributed to the great writers; I think it’s called the joy of storytelling.”
Nya Lidköpings-Tidningen (SE)