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Slugger 1

by Martin Holmen
Publication Date: 02/07/2019
5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $25.80 $25.75
It's summer in Stockholm, and the city is sweltering in the grip of a rare heatwave while fascists and communists beat each other bloody in the streets. Harry Kvist has had enough. It's time for him to leave. But first he has some business to take care of. His old friend and ex-lover, Reverend Gabrielsson, has been murdered, and the police are more interested in anti-Semitic rumours than finding the truth.
Kvist investigates the only way he knows how, with his fists, uncovering a Nazi terrorist plot and a cabal of corrupt cops. Before long he finds himself caught in the middle of a turf war between two of the city's most brutal gangs. Can he fight his way out of one last corner and find a way to freedom, or has Kvist finally taken a punch too many?
Political / legal thriller
Publication Date:
Pushkin Press
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Martin Holmen

Martin Holmen is the author of the Harry Kvist thrillers, described as gritty, historical, queer noir fiction with a unique Swedish flavour.

The first in the series, Clinch, has been published or will soon be available in Sweden, France, Italy, Norway, Poland, the UK, and Australia and New Zealand.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • dark and gritty

    by on

    Slugger is the third book in the Harry Kvist trilogy by Swedish author and teacher, Martin Holmén. It is flawlessly translated from Swedish by Annie Prime. It’s summer, 1936, a heatwave, and Harry Kvist, now almost forty, is wondering if he’s going soft: he has just surprised himself with an act of kindness. But his mood is immediately darkened when he learns that Reverend August Gabrielsson has been murdered. DCI Alvar Berglund lets him see his friend, crucified with 9-inch nails on the floor of Katarina Church, a star of David sketched in blood at his head.

    Harry does not get involved in politics, but he knows Gabrielsson was strongly anti-Nazi, and has no faith in Stockholm’s Police Force to deliver justice, so it’s up to him to mete out punishment once he finds the killer. His enquiries point him in a certain direction, but he has other demands on his time: his boxing trainee, Hesse is due for a bout; his landlord is ailing and needs his care; a lover has materialised in his life; and a letter from America holds promise of a sort.

    Most disturbing, though, is the demand from one of Stockholm’s gangster families for his cooperation in what looks like becoming a turf war. Kvist works alone, and is inclined to believe this can’t end well for him. Another stint in Långholmen prison? Going out with a bang would be preferable.

    Once again, Holmén conjures seedy mid-1930s Stockholm with consummate ease: men in hats and suits, the scarcity of telephones, the mix of horse-drawn and petrol-driven vehicles. There’s lots of smoking (Harry is seldom without a cigar in his mouth); there’s lots of hard liquor, violence and gunplay. The heatwave means lice infestations, dust and public water so scarce there’s a bounty on stray dogs. The humour, too, is dry and often black, and it’s Harry Kvist, so the sex is not vanilla.

    Holmén’s descriptive prose is often evocative: “We approach an old lady sitting on a wooden bench on the level of the secondary grammar school. Life has carved razor-sharp lines in her sunburnt face. She dunks an old crust of bread in milk and shoves it in her mouth. She holds out a cupped hand as we pass. A moist, slovenly sound comes from her toothless mouth, almost like when you poke some bastard’s eyeball.”

    The plot is riveting, rushing the reader headlong to an exciting climax: a dramatic chase, plenty of dead bodies and a miraculous escape, all against the backdrop of the imminent Nazi menace. It’s dark and gritty, and a fitting end to this brilliant Scandinavian trilogy.
    This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Pushkin Press.