Sandy's Reviews > The Wolf and the Watchman

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
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4.5 stars

In chaos theory, there is something called the butterfly effect. The idea is that one small action can greatly affect the outcome of a later, seemingly unrelated event. This novel is full of little moments that show how one person’s decision can permanently alter the lives of others.

The year is 1793 & Stockholm is a city on edge. Rebellion by lower classes in countries such as France have made the Swedish elite a tad nervous, especially after the murder of King Gustav III. This is the backdrop for a story of 4 people living separate lives until a single event causes their paths to cross. All it takes is the discovery of a mutilated body.

Mickel Cardell returned from the war with shattered nerves & one less arm. Now he’s a watchman….when he can be bothered to get up off his barstool. That’s where 2 youngsters find him one night with news of a floater in the lake. But the body Mickel “rescues” is not exactly what he expected. In fact, it’s not even really a body. Just a torso….no arms, no legs.

Cecil Winge is a lawyer who works as a consultant with the Swedish police. He’s an intelligent & private man who has fought for progressive changes to the legal system. He’s also dying from consumption. So it’s no wonder he feels a sense of urgency about his latest case….to give a name to the unidentified torso & find a killer.

Kristofer Blix is a handsome farm boy who heads to Stockholm with dreams of becoming a doctor. He soon realizes how unprepared he is for life in the big city but could never have imagined where it will lead.

Anna-Stina’s young life has been full of poverty & struggle. And it’s about to get worse. If she wants something better she’ll have to be brave, smart & resourceful. Thankfully, she has those things in spades.

At its heart this is an engrossing murder investigation but as we meet & get to know the 4 MC’s, it becomes so much more. Their personal stories add depth & guarantee you become as invested in them as you are in solving the mystery surrounding the torso. The historical setting, political situation, class system & living conditions are so well rendered that sometimes it feels all too real.

I finished this a while ago & have been struggling to write a review that does it justice. Even the rating was a challenge. If I look at it purely as entertainment, I can’t say I enjoyed every part. There are passages that are difficult, even revolting to read. But here’s the thing. Life for many people at that time WAS difficult & revolting to our modern sensibilities. It was about survival. And the reason you feel these emotions so keenly is all down to the author’s skills as a story teller.

He has an extraordinary ability to write prose that completely envelops you. You feel everything as you follow these characters. Fear, anger, frustration, grief & scattered glimmers of hope. All your senses are engaged. Yes, there are scenes that made me want to look away but I couldn’t. I cared deeply for these people & carried the book with me to read every chance I got.

Soooo…by now you probably figured out this will not be found under “Cozies”. Sometimes when I’m asked about my last couple of reads, I struggle to remember names & plot details. This is a visceral & haunting story that has stayed with me. The ability to transport a reader to another time & place is a gift & I look forward to the author’s next book. But maybe I’ll have a wee beverage before cracking the cover 🍷.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 10, 2019 – Finished Reading
January 19, 2019 – Shelved
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: arc-from-netgalley
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: atmospheric
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: crime
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: disturbing
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: explicit
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: gothic
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: historical
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: mystery
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: political-intrigue
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: scandinavian-authors
January 19, 2019 – Shelved as: translation

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by Felicia (new) - added it

Felicia Whatever color intrigued is, color me that color. Great review, Sandy 💖 I'm gonna go request this one.


message 2: by Jean (new)

Jean Your last line made me smile, Sandy. Difficult, yes, but this is one that will stay with you a while, I’ll bet.


message 3: by Sandy (last edited Jan 19, 2019 02:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sandy Felicia wrote: "Whatever color intrigued is, color me that color. Great review, Sandy 💖 I'm gonna go request this one."

That makes me so happy Felicia! I wanted to be honest about the content but not put anyone off. I'm beyond impressed with this author & wouldn't be surprised if it ends up on my yearly Top 10.


Sandy Jean wrote: "Your last line made me smile, Sandy. Difficult, yes, but this is one that will stay with you a while, I’ll bet."

Too right, Jean. I feel like I disappeared down a rabbit hole for a few days & now have a book hangover 🤕


message 5: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Such a fantastic review, Sandy. Looking forward to this one.


message 6: by Christine (new)

Christine What a well written review, Sandy. This one looks pretty special.


Sandy Diane S ☔ wrote: "Such a fantastic review, Sandy. Looking forward to this one."

Thanks so much, Diane. I sure hope you enjoy it & will watch for your review. Dying to know what some of my GR buddies think of it.


Sandy Christine wrote: "What a well written review, Sandy. This one looks pretty special."

Thanks, Christine! So hard to write this review. The subject matter is dark but the way he writes keeps you glued to the story.


message 9: by Bex (new)

Bex Rees Great review.Have requested this one


Sandy Bex wrote: "Great review.Have requested this one"

That's great, Bex! Please keep me posted, would love to know what you think.


message 11: by Erin (new)

Erin Excellent review, Sandy!


Sandy Erin wrote: "Excellent review, Sandy!"

Thanks so much, Erin. Entire books were probably written in the time it took... ; )


message 13: by Brenda (new) - added it

Brenda Sandy, you did it again. What a fantastic review because your emotional response to the book shines through (and I think you did do it justice). I will be looking for this book on release day.


Sandy Brenda wrote: "Sandy, you did it again. What a fantastic review because your emotional response to the book shines through (and I think you did do it justice). I will be looking for this book on release day."

Aw, thanks Brenda. Just so many damn feels with this book. Maybe the January blues? It felt weird to sing the praises of something that made me physically ill in places (wanted to give potential readers a heads-up) but that can only happen when someone writes this well. Also should have mentioned I couldn't find anything about the translator but they did a fine job. Can't wait to hear what you think! (suggest emergency 🍷 at the ready 😉)


Amanda Awesome review! I agree completely... but i did give the book 5 stars


Sandy Amanda wrote: "Awesome review! I agree completely... but i did give the book 5 stars"

Thanks, Amanda. I really struggled with the rating. It always comes down to writing skills vs. entertainment for me. So glad you loved it!


message 17: by Bex (new)

Bex Rees Sandy wrote: "Bex wrote: "Great review.Have requested this one"

That's great, Bex! Please keep me posted, would love to know what you think."


Yey,it's approved!Next on my to-read list!


Sandy Bex wrote: "Sandy wrote: "Bex wrote: "Great review.Have requested this one"

That's great, Bex! Please keep me posted, would love to know what you think."

Yey,it's approved!Next on my to-read list!"


That's fantastic! Can't wait to hear what you think.


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