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The beautiful people loved coming out to Sandhamn, hobnobbing whenever there was a regatta or an international yacht race. The Gucci quota had shot up by several hundred percent, as Henrik would remark with some amusement as the big jetty in front of the clubhouse filled up with elegant women in expensive clothes and middle-aged men who carried both their rotundy and their bulging wallets with an air of authority and assurance.
Some of the residents complained about the increased traffic and the number of tourists on the island, but the majority, who depended on the employment opportunities they provided for their survival, had a positive attitude toward the development.
from: Still Waters
Life and Crime in the Archipelago
Thomas Andreasson is a police inspector. His desk is located in Nacka in the metropolitan area of Stockholm. He is responsible if there is some crime in the archipelago – any crime. There is apparent affluence in the region while at the same time a trend to living the simple life (fishing, BBQ, new potatoes, fresh bread, cycling): crime cannot be ignored around the crowd of the beautiful and the rich as well as the natives. Of course Thomas, born in the archipelago with a summer house on one of the small islands, isn’t alone: there is a team of investigators dealing with this rather wide area where you take a boat when called into action. (Later on his partner becomes his boss: Thomas hasn’t any reservations although he now has to report to a woman.)
Nora Linde is a lawyer working in Stockholm in a bank dealing with contracts and financial transactions. Later on she becomes a prosecutor specialized in financial fraud. She is also a child go the archipelago and has inherited a house in Sandhamn where she likes to spend her holidays and any time off. So she gets involved in crimes around her summer home.
Nora and Thomas know each other since childhood days. They are married, but not with each other. Are they lovers? That’s a difficult question …
Let’s stop at this point. The series which ranges over about 12 years so far not only covers a lot of crime, especially murder cases, but also the development of Nora’s and Thomas’ relationship. So at this point I’d like to start with the private life of both protagonists.
When starting writing about the Sandhamn Murders I thought about if to mention Thomas as the police inspector – i. e. only him – or if to add Nora as well. Of course they are not a team of professional colleagues. However, Nora always plays an important role in solving the crimes – so for me it’s absolutely necessary to mention her. Nora is an essential player in the series.
So … Thomas and Nora know each other and are friends. Their friendship matured over the years. When they solve their first murder mystery they are 37 years old. Thomas started a career in the police force and married. He became father of a daughter, but the baby died of sudden infant death syndrome. Afterwards his marriage broke down and Thomas messed up with love affairs.
Nora married a successful physician working in a clinic in Stockholm. Henrik is a passionate sailor. Therefore he loves Sandhamn and the life at Sandhamn although … Nora has got two boys and struggles to cover her professional duties as well as her private family life. Henrik has ambitions, mainly concerning how to raise their economic status. Nora finds out that her priorities lie elsewhere. Finally Henrik starts an affair leading to a divorce …
At this point I thought that Nora and Thomas may reunite and start loving each other. No: Thomas reunites with his ex-wife and they have a new baby girl. Nora starts a love affair with a holiday maker and becomes a third child at the age of 42 years. Her lover is seven years younger and a successful pilot.
So finally in the last novel (so far) they are 49 years old. Thomas has separated from his wife once again and Nora think about the marriage proposal of her lover. All the time they are friends hiding no secrets from each other. However, they never met on a level like love and marriage.
Coming back to the crime cases when Thomas and Nora always co-operate. Of course Thomas isn’t so fond of having Nora around, however, Nora is nosy and always starts to investigate on her own which is more than once a dangerous undertaking. Without intention she often gets very near to a killer. After having become a prosecutor her business is the fight against crime, but more on a business level. Daily crime isn’t her job.
The series starts with murders. There is always more than a single corpse appearing somewhere. Keep in mind: when someone decides to kill more killings will follow to cover up for the first kill. All the crimes are not only mixed with the private life of Nora and Thomas, but also with the past. Imagnine that decades ago in a family … some unjustness happened … which is suddenly – today – of new importance. People living in the archipelago for generations don’t forget anything and are keen to close any unfinished business – if necessary or if possible.
Furthermore there are the newcomers, rich people who like to own a summer cottage on the archipelago for boasting and solidifying their status. There are the sailing races and the Royal Yacht Club where independent of holidays or relaxed weekends business of any shades rule the game. Their offspring is crazy about partying involving alcohol and drugs i. e. drug trafficking and the drug dealers popping up. It looks like a perfect summer – especially when watching the TV series, however, always something gets badly out of control.
There is a special case which, I think, is very difficult. It’s difficult because Nora is deeply involved on a very personal basis and she almost dies by the murderer who focuses on her when realizing that Nora finally sees through the tangles web of lies and rumors. Nora cannot cope with it, especially with a sudden inheritance due to the events, but at the same time she cannot leave behind her this deep personal relationship to the murderer. Her attitude will definitely attribute to the divorce which dawns on the horizon.
In short: Each novel is self-contained, but the whole picture like the crime, the society, the personal relationship between Thomas and Nora, their private family lives unfolds only in the series. It’s not a series forming part of the notorious dark Scandinavian style, but it’s a shot at modern life within a sometimes cruel society.