Koppel’s gift lies in the sheer simplicity of his plot, which he oils with a clear and direct writing style that maintains the pace and and turns pages with the rapidity of a money counter. The storyline is the antithesis of complexity and there is no whodunit mystery with numerous crisscrossing leads and red herrings. The perp is identified from the outset and the suspense rests not in anticipating the unveiling of the guilty party. The simplicity tends to make it different from most other work I have read in 'Scandi Crime.' To boot, it is a plot that could be as easily transplanted to Manchester or Seattle and lose little in the switch of crime scene. It doesn’t have that brooding Scandinavian atmosphere that while hard to pin down is tangible.
Koppel focuses on the shifting power balance in a relationship between captive and captor. Just because the author is Swedish it doesn’t follow that he will home in on the Stockholm Syndrome. A psychological war of attrition rather than deference more characterises the situations he creates. First, Anna has the upper hand but just as quickly it moves to Erik. Often it can turn on a phrase. As readily as Erik chases Anna, the reader puruses this ongoing battle through pages that are transformed into a theatre of psychological war.
Anna meets Eric in a hotel while on a business conference. She is married with one child, has never played away from home but is taken in by the patter and looks of a man 15 years her junior. She thinks she can forget him but the physicality of the tryst stirred a craving within her and subsequently led her to revisit the crime scene of passion. First it gets wet, then slippery, before the plummet from the slope is a mere matter of inevitability.
Anna’s mother Catherine, although 67 retained her libido. While others in the same age bracket might have settled for more sedentary pastimes like knitting, Catherine was not yet ready to give up on screwing. Trying to pick male pensioners up in the library isn’t quite that easy. Men go there to root around in books rather than in the lingerie of 67 year olds. Her liberal and non judgemental views on sex and infidelity made her an ideal person to whom Anna can divulge both her secrets and fears. Catherine, worried about her daughter, decided to confront Eric, believing matters can always be resolved by reason. It only makes Eric more angry, causing him to shift gear and go full throttle against Anna.
Koppel depicts Swedish cops as lazy. The investigating officer seems disinclined to get out of his chair unless he really has to. His girth is wide, his responses tardy. Finally when galvanised into action the dimming of the flashing blue lights and the employing of siren silence, even for sound operational reasons, helps convey an image of a cop pretty much at ease with the world and the people in it, good, bad and indifferent.
Anna strayed from a solid but stolid husband whom she loved. He could forgive her but Erik could not. She was his now.
Hans Koppel, You're Mine Now, 2013. Sphere: London. ISBN978-0-7515-5117-4