"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Monday, 25 February 2013

Evil Water by Inger Wolf

Two women who share the same chestnut-coloured tresses have disappeared. Later their heavily decomposed corpses - what’s left of them anyway - are found stuffed into suitcases and sporting odd ‘Y’ shaped wounds; one of the women has a rare flower in her hair. When a third chestnut-haired woman is reported missing, the pressure is on for Daniel Trokic and his investigative team to crack the case and apprehend the culprit before she meets her grisly fate.

Evil Water is a bloody and suspenseful crime-thriller set in Denmark. The narrative is split into 76 short chapters, each one rotating between several main characters, but with a focus on the lead investigator, Daniel Trokic. The story is intriguing with an unusual and vile method of murder and an inventive plot set against a background of gruesome African cult practices. The pace is energetic and effortlessly manages to hold suspense throughout; it never gets boring or slow, and the case has numerous twists and turns to keep you guessing. 

The novel has been translated from Danish, and unfortunately there are several minor translation issues. Some sentences feel a bit clunky and poorly put together; I suspect that whoever translated Evil Water into English is not a native English speaker. Some of the dialogue also feels a little unnatural. This is not a major problem, but for me it detracted from the realistic quality of the novel and prevented me from ever feeling fully immersed in the story. Sometimes incorrect words are used which made the sentences confusing and at times made me re-read the sentence; for example ‘filled’ is always used instead of ‘covered’, so we end up with sentences such as “Her body was filled with Y’s” and “She was wearing a shirt that was filled with flowers.” These flaws are nothing major but it sounds silly in English and as a reader I found it distracting.

Overall, it is a very good thriller with a well thought out plot which succeeds in holding interest. I really enjoyed it, but at the same time it isn’t anything particularly special or new. The translation is far from seamless, and the characters are a little hollow and under-developed. Nonetheless the good certainly out ways the bad and I look forward to reading more of Wolf’s novels if any more are translated into English. Evil Water is definitely worth a read if you enjoy this genre and are interested in reading a suspenseful, gritty and bloody tale.

Rating: 7/10

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this book by the publisher (Black Cat) in exchange for an honest review.

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