Skip to main content

The Deathwatch Beetle

Review

The Deathwatch Beetle

Award-winning Swedish author Kjell Eriksson joins the wave of writers living under the literary umbrella of Nordic noir. His latest novel, THE DEATHWATCH BEETLE, is the ninth installment in his popular mystery series featuring Ann Lindell.

At the book’s dark center is the disappearance of a young woman that took place four years earlier. Cecilia Karlsson vanished from the island of Gräsö off the Swedish coast and has not been seen or heard from since. That is, until rumors begin about alleged sightings of her. None of this is lost on Ann, who cannot bear to have a cold case hanging over her head, even though she is no longer a member of the police department.

"THE DEATHWATCH BEETLE is a dark novel, and Cecilia is not an easy character to like. It is the integrity of Ann Lindell that drives the book as she is a believer in justice and neat, happy endings."

Despite being a big fan of nature shows, I confess that I wasn’t familiar with the deathwatch beetle, which we learn is a species of woodboring beetle. Eriksson uses the deathwatch beetle as a metaphor throughout the story, making it a perfect title for the novel.

With this in mind, a young lady leaves her cabin and walks down to a nearby body of water. As she peers out over the islands that surround her, we find out that she is indeed Cecilia. The product of her rough upbringing, she is thinking that with the death of an individual named Olga, she would have no further obstacles. What this means will become clear as we read more about the very much alive Cecilia.

Ann returns from her retirement from the police force to continue her search for Cecilia. She examines the people in her life who were closest to her, beginning with her parents, who still seem devastated by her absence. Yet they live in a house that is full of secrets waiting to be discovered. Then there is Nils Lindberg, who has carried a torch for Cecilia since high school. Now, the often-intoxicated Nils still pines for her, and he keeps to himself what he witnessed just prior to her disappearance.

Ann and her lover, Edvard, are invested in getting to the bottom of the mystery that is Cecilia. We learn that she uses people as if they are mere chess pieces in a game she is playing with herself. This all could come to an end when someone she may have wronged appears to take revenge on her.

THE DEATHWATCH BEETLE is a dark novel, and Cecilia is not an easy character to like. It is the integrity of Ann Lindell that drives the book as she is a believer in justice and neat, happy endings.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on December 3, 2021

The Deathwatch Beetle
by Kjell Eriksson

  • Publication Date: November 23, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250766168
  • ISBN-13: 9781250766168