Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I have just finished reading Betrayal by Karin Alvtegen. While I found that I was sucked in to the story and admired her grasp of the human psyche, the unremitting bleakness of the tale left me rather disturbed. This story of shattered human relationships is told mostly in the first person by each of the three main characters; Eva and Henrik, a married couple in their thirties who have a son Axel, and Jonas, a younger man.

Jonas, has been keeping vigil beside his comatose girlfriend's bed for two years. Henrik is having an affair to which he is afraid to admit, and Eva wants revenge for this betrayal. But it turns out that all is not what it seems as their relationships are dissected one by one.

Ms Alvtegen certainly has a deep understanding of the emotional turmoil people go through when their lives turn out badly. She conveys in brilliant fashion the thoughts and actions of a couple whose marital relationship has broken down, and especially seemed to understand the weakness of a character like Henrik.
This is a dark psychological thriller, and the plot does have some important weaknesses, but to me the main problem was that all the main characters were just so completely unsympathetic. I was interested in what happened to them as part of the story, but could not care about them as characters. Eva could have easily just told Henrik to go away, but she went down a path of bitterness and hate. Henrik was a pathetic creep, who was willing to hurt his wife, but could not face the thought that someone else found her attractive.

And I won't spoil the plot by detailing the varied problems of the very damaged Jonas.

This was a very bleak, very Scandinavian story with not one touch of lightness, or humour within it. Not my sort of crime fiction, but an interesting example of the psychological thriller sub genre.

"and we could go alone, just the two of us for a change."......

"There is nothing, absolutely nothing that I want to do together with you."


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