How much is glory and fame really worth, when counted in the suffering of the people closest to you? The death of the housekeeper of the fictive world-famous Nobel Prize laureate Axel Ragnerfeldt becomes the starting point of an investigation into the claustrophobic family ties, mysterious disappearances and dark secrets surrounding a man shrouded in myth. With her fifth novel Shadow, Karin Alvtegen has achieved her darkest and most complex thriller to date, in which the disturbing truth of a sick family is gradually and mercilessly laid bare.
Winner of the Danish Academy of Crime Writers´The Palle Rosenkrantz Award 2008 for Best Crime Novel in Denmark of the year.
Nominated for Duncan Laurie International Dagger Award 2009.
Nominated for the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' Award 2007 for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year.
"Taken together, the gallery of characters in Shadow produce a both disturbing and entertaining image of how a writing career - not to mention the expectations and the publicity that come with it - can have a devastating effect on the creative process. But Shadow is also a genuinely wicked story of a family that snares you with its dysfunctional relatonships and secrets of the darkest kind. In addition, Shadow is a truly irrestistable read. /…/ In her earlier books, Karin Alvtegen…has shown that she is a true master of the psychological thriller and in anchoring her dark stories into everyday life as we know it."
"Karin Alvtegen is a gifted storyteller, with a strong sense of style and shades of meaning. She gets under the skin of her characters and portrays them in a credible way. At the core of Shadow is a strong moral indignation and the question of what we do with our lives."
"Karin Alvtegen raises some very important questions in this dense, thrilling and well written crime novel, where the story is reminiscent of the Glenn Close movie Fatal Attraction."
"Karin Alvtegen has become one of the greatest in the genre referred to as the psychological thriller. /…/ Shadow is…an excellent novel, suspenseful and intelligent and exceptionally well written."
"The violence comes into play late in the novel, but the way leading up to it is well worth trailing in all is perfectly plotted unpredictability."
"Shadow is a classic Alvtegen novel - but with "extra everything". /…/ Like in her previous novels, Alvtegen moves aptly and confidently between odd characters and 'normal people', ordinary, everyday situations and disastrous moments. But this time, the storytelling is different: more full, playful and inflated. /…/ …once you've been properly sucked into the story, you are lost."
"The end…is brilliantly done. She is an exceptional storyteller and knows to plot her story so as to keep the reader's interest at a constant high."
"Karin Alvtegen in brilliant shape"
"The traces shoot out in every direction and I read without stopping and with mounting excitement to see how Karin Alvtegen will tie it all together in the end. As the pro she is, she manages to to do just that, and the story builds up towards its dramatic and entirely unexpected denouement. /…/ Karin Alvtegen's new novel offers nearly four hundred pages of pure suspense."
How is the idea for a novel born? When does the first seed fall, and when does it start growing to then slowly branch out? Afterwards, it's difficult to remember how it all began. How the characters matured in one's mind to then come to life and correct themselves during the actual writing process. I remember two seeds from the other side of Shadow. The first one fell when I discovered I had been written into the Swedish national encyclopedia. Proud and happy, I scanned the entry.
Alvtegen, Karin, b. 1965, author, great niece of Astrid Lindgren. A. made her novel debut in 1998 with Guilt. With Missing (2000), which was awarded the Nordic Crime Writing Award The Glass Key, she established herself as one of the country's foremost new crime writers, a position that she cemented with Betrayal (2003). A. writes intensely suspenseful psychological crime novels with terse character portraits, especially of women. Despite receiving massive attention in Sweden, she has attained her greatest successes outside the country; the books are translated into more than 20 languages. A. has also written screenplays for the TV series "Rederiet" among other productions.
One of the lines got me thinking. "…with terse character portraits, especially of women." I immediately knew that the next novel would have men as the main characters, since the very driving force of my writing is to up the stakes, try to grow and above all, to challenge myself. Would I be able to create equally terse portraits of men? My fundamental way of viewing things has always been that if you scrape off the social and cultural heritage, I believe men and women deep down inside harbor the same driving forces and fears. I wanted to set out exploring this right away.
The other seed came from an entirely different direction. I have in my family one of the most admired and adored people ever in Sweden. My great aunt Astrid Lindgren. Astrid was a unique author, but also a unique person. She is and remains to me a great human role model. Those of us who had the privilege to know her, know that she is every bit as fantastic as rumor has it. The thought suddenly struck me, that what if it was precisely the other way around? What if a celebrated national icon, a Nobel laureate of literature whose novels were filled with thoughts on good and evil, was actually a real wretch? A man whose family was still forced to maintain the revered lifetime achievement and keep the aura of irreproachability intact?
From these two seeds, the idea for Shadow emerged and was mixed with other thoughts and concerns. Why do we humans have such a longing for numbing the brain with alcohol and other drugs? Which impact does the current media climate have on our children? What marks the outcome of our lives, and just how deeply are the traces from childhood etched into our minds? Who is really to blame when it all goes wrong? Is trying to save the world worth it if it is at the expense of one's own family? And if so, what is the driving force?
The characters and the plot took shape during a year, after which it was time to start writing. One question was constantly present during the writing process: What is, in truth, genuine success?