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(Harry Kvist #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  62 reviews
An ultra-gritty piece of contemporary Swedish noir, set in a decrepit, highly atmospheric 1930s Stockholm that is a far cry from the modern, egalitarian capital city of today.

The writing's on the wall for Harry Kvist. Once a notorious boxer, he now spends his days drinking, and his nights chasing debts amongst the pimps, prostitutes and petty thieves of 1930s Stockholm. W
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Echo Publishing (first published August 31st 2015)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  238 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ng, fr, 2016-odyssey, noir, suspense
1932 Stockholm, Sweden

Wheel of Fortune, for every one going up there's one going down.

Framed for murder Kvisten searches for the witness who can clear him. A cat and mouse game across the seedy side of interwar Stockholm ensues with Harry seemingly one step behind, all the time, until his luck turns. It's a probing look at the bottom half of the city's totem from the schemers to the scrapers to the desperate, and every so often there's a glimmer of hope.

Not pretty and not cozy, there's a viscer
Emma Sea
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperback, i-own-it
Fuck me. This was amazing. Fuck. Wow. A coherent review may take some time. Geez, V; perfect pick for me. Thank you. So much thank you.

Six stars. I'm pre-ordering the second book as soon as there's a release date.

4,5 stars!

WARNING: This book is not romance.
It is very interesting, unusual and highly recommended gay mystery.

I think, I have never read anything more visually noir before!

Martin Holmén belongs to the biggest surprises of this year for me.

Stockholm in 1932. Swedish noir? Oh yes, please! It looks like the author wrote his debut novel with an old city map. I wish I could follow places, streets, names. (It's time to visit Stockholm.)
The settings are fantastic.

The plot:
Harry Kvist, an ex boxe
Nancy Oakes
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me say this right up front: this is not your standard Nordic crime novel. Clinch would be right at home on a hardcore noir-reader's shelf. It's a very physical novel, a book where the term "gritty" doesn't even begin to cover how very dark it is. It's also a story that takes its readers into the streets and alleyways of Stockholm in the early 1930s where people are just trying to survive however they can, be it by pimping, prostitution, thievery, whatever. And even when the story moves into ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in a proposed trilogy – the second book is titled, “Down for the Count,” and the third novel, planned next year (2017 at time of writing this review) is “Slugger.” The main character is the bi-sexual, ex-boxer, Harry Kvist, who lives in Stockholm. This is not the Stockholm we are familiar with though in Nordic Noir crime novels – although this book certainly ticks every other ‘noir’ box – but this is Sweden in 1932. Other crime novels, of course, have been set in 1930’s Europe ...more

A very proper noir complete with a femme fatale and all that that usually entails. Our grizzled 'hero' tumbles through a rugged Stockholm where the cold and the snow and the poverty are an essential part of the noir feel, just like the heat and the sweat are part of the more southern noir.

With Kvist, Holmen creates a more than jaded complex man complete with a troubled past and an uncertain future. His words created this grimy world full of streets which would get me completely loss should I go
This is a great idea, historical (early 1930s) noir with a bisexual anti-hero: an ex-boxer working as a debt collector & hired thug, who when he’s wrongly suspected of murder, sets out to find the real culprit.
Tough gay & bi men haven’t been that visible in mainstream popular culture (a recent notable exception being the character of Corky in the BBC adaptation The Night Manager). And in this setting of 80-odd years ago, Harry Kvist’s sexuality provides a lot of conflict in the story, w
This is a bleak, seedy grim murder mystery set in Stockholm in the early 1930's. The main character is Harry Kvist, a debt collector and ex-boxer of some renown. Unfortunately during his course of work Harry becomes implicated in a brutal murder.

I enjoyed the setting very much, a quite visual look at the seedy underbelly of life in Stockholm at that time. It's a grim existence and poverty is rife. It's a dog eat dog world.
The murder mystery was well presented although in this instance I couldn't
Martin Holmén
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Best first novel I've ever written!
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, lgbt

Gritty and gruesome, Clinch is a great mystery with an unpleasant but fascinating main character, Harry Kvist, whose only positive side is his affection for pets.

Despite the total lack of romance and (too) many gross moments, I found this read greatly mesmerizing. The sex scenes (unfortunately only a couple), both gay and het, were incredibly hot and felt very real. The last chapter was a true blast!

Minor complaint: there’s a very detailed description of 1932 Stockholm which at times feels like
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Clinch is the first book in the Harry Kvist trilogy by Swedish author and teacher, Martin Holmen. It is flawlessly translated from Swedish by Henning Koch. It’s 1932 and life in depression-era Stockholm is no easier than anywhere else. Ex-boxer, ex-sailor, ex-con Harry Kvist is just trying to survive. He uses his skills for vehicle repossessions, for finding missing or runaway country girls, and for roughing up those who need it: “A country girl is worth more than a bicycle, but less than a car ...more
I received an ARC of this title from Pushkin Press.

Harry Kvist is an former boxer who lives in the decrepit, dirty and seedy city of Stockholm in the 1930’s. The city is full of tramps, prostitutes, and bootleggers as well as poor and destitute citizens who have been affected by the economic collapse of this decade. Kvist himself leads a hard life by serving as a collector of debts to those who have defaulted on payments. His specialty is repossessing bicycles which is easy money for him. When t
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I knew Swedish well enough to enjoy the book in its original language as I had a few issues here and there with the translation. Nevertheless, the book is great. I was never a huge fan of noir, but I simply couldn't put it down. Definitely gonna order the next one.
Ken Fredette
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy Weston
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holmen’s gritty and violent novel won’t help Stockholm’s tourist industry. Set in 1932 it is narrated by ex-boxer Harry Kvist, now down on his luck and debt-collecting To makes ends meet. His is a well-known face from his fighting days though, everywhere he goes people know him, which is not always a good thing. The streets of the city that Kvist inhabits are shared by junkies, prostitutes and gangs out for trouble. It is a very different Stockholm to these days.

Kvist visits a man and demands t
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: euro-noir
"Hatred issues from their mouths like smoke & violence is no longer pretty this night, violence is nothing more than a blessed jumble of feet & fists & sobbing. The boys claw & hiss desperately at each other, like a litter of kittens in a jute sack on their way to the river."

A very impressive example of Swedish Noir, set in 1930's Stockholm. This is the first book in a proposed trilogy. Fans of Hammett, looking for a Dash more sleaze should check this out.
This gritty, grimy na
I don't read noir (I think? I read some thrillers, some crime novels but I don't think I have ever read something that could be said to be noir) so from what I have seen, I am not the audience for this book.

I didn't find the main character interesting and the way he treated everyone else was pretty boring (he could have been called D*ck Hardboiled, the toughest detective, and I would have believed it). At least he doesn't abuse dogs? That's something, at least.
Robert Jackson
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Swedish noir set in 1930's. A well balanced pace. I didn't have to fight with the prose. Most of the characters were intriguing, easy to sympathize with, and not one dimensional. The plot was believable and not full of ridiculous twists and turns. I found myself reading 'in the moment' and not trying to guess where it was going. A very good read. I highly recommend it.
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
If you have ever wondered why Scandinavian noir is so glum given the excellent social net and general Hygge imagine what it would be like if the Scandinavian countries were run as callously as elsewhere. Reading Clinch provides the answer. Unmitigated relentless bleakness.

The (anti) hero is vividly depicted, the plot a little shaky and the descriptions of the milieu don't despite the blurb meet the impossible standards of chandler. I enjoyed it but did not love it.
Liz Barnsley
DNF at page 125.

This one really isn't for me even though to all intents and purposes it is a great book. The visual noir feel the author brings to this is second to none - evoking a different time and place and putting a hugely divisive and to me unlikable main protagonist into the centre of it.

My problem is I'm just not finding the story that interesting and every time I pick it up I feel like I'm reading it just because it is it's turn on the currently reading pile. That tells me I'm not enjo
Todd Simpson
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I quite enjoyed reading this book. It was captivating, dark and gritty. Mark Holmen’s style reminds me of the American Author Richard Price, who is also very good. There’s a lot to like about the main character Harry Hvist, an ex –boxer. There’s plenty of depth to this story and it moves along at a good pace. It is also quite unique reading a story based in the 1930’s and picturing what life would have been like back then. I will definitely keep an eye out for Marks next book, as this one is wor ...more
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
While I couldn't relate directly to the protatgonist, I enjoyed the gritty feel of the story and the earthiness of the characters. It felt like this was a world that the writer really knew something about (which is quite a disturbing thought).
Alexandra Nedstam
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Om detta är riktningen för Swedish crime, då är jag med till 110 %.
Smutsigt, stinkande, hårt och väldigt väl genomfört hela vägen. Tänk dig Sin City möter Stockholm 1932.
Andrea Susan
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
1930’s Stockholm is on the edge of darkness. Poverty, rising dark politics and brutal truths about life at that point in history. In this world we find Kvist an ex boxer, a part time extortionist, full time drinker and smoker and a suspect in the death of a debtor. His previous prison record and occupation make him an open and shut case for the police except for a witness who puts him in the clear. He’s good at finding people amongst the debtors, prostitutes and pimps he just needs to find them ...more
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, h

The first book in the Harry Kvist Trilogy

You can put the gloves on the shelf but it takes a long time to wash their smell from your knuckles.

The writing's on the wall for Harry Kvist. Once a notorious boxer, he now spends his days drinking, and his nights chasing debts amongst the pimps, prostitutes and petty thieves of 1930s Stockholm. When women can't satisfy him, men can. But one biting winter's night he pays a threatening visit to a debtor named Zetterberg, and when the ma
Marianne Grahn
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
God, historisk krim, unødvendig mye vold trekker ned for meg.
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Time for some crime. I’ve read and enjoyed quite of a lot of Scandinavian crime fiction. I’ve also read and enjoyed quite of lot of historical fiction. The promise of a novel that successfully combines the two certainly piques my interest. Clinch is the debut novel from Martin Holmen featuring ex-boxer Harry Kvist.

Kvist remains a bit of an enigma throughout. Though there are a few snippets about his time in the ring, as well as his time in the armed forces, for the most part he is a mystery. I r
May 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Even though I finished Martin Holmén’s Clinch (translated by Henning Koch), I’m still not sure if I like it or not. I was attracted to the novel because of its setting. I’ve said it before, but I’m a sucker for places and times I haven’t read previously read about. Holmén’s Stockholm of the 1930s was fascinating. What I’m not sure about is the main character, Harry Kvist. At the opening of Clinch, Kvist makes his living repossessing bicycles from people who’ve stopped paying for them and occasio ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

16/20 - En bref, un thriller sombre et haletant, l'auteur nous plonge sans peine dans la douleur du Stockholm des années 30 et nous fait ressentir tous les sentiments de son personnage. On ne sait pas vraiment vers quoi on se dirige mais quand les masques tombent, tout s'éclaire différemment et nous surprend de plus d'une manière....
Stefania Vani
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Excellent debut. Very dark. Was intrigued by the wrong side of town in 1930s Stockholm. Harry Kvist is a compelling character and secondary characters like his undertaker landlord are no less compelling. Not for the squeamish.
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Basic information: Swedish writer, based in Stockholm. Born in 1974. Teaches History, Swedish and History of Culture and Ideas at an upper secondary school in Stockholm two days a week. Author of the Harry Kvist trilogy (Sweden) or the Stockholm trilogy (UK/USA) or the Metropol series (France).

The first installment CLINCH is set in 1932 when the economic depression hits Sweden. It has been describ

Other books in the series

Harry Kvist (3 books)
  • Down for the Count (Harry Kvist, #2)
  • Slugger (Harry Kvist #3)