Martin Holmén, Clinch


I read the whole book but I didn’t quite like it although I decided to stick it out and read it until the end. I needed to get about 80% of the way through to start appreciating it. I thought there was too much violence in it, too much spilling of blood and other bodily fluids. However, I did appreciate in the end the aura of cynicism that pervades this book and the main character’s lack of illusions about the goodness of fellow human beings.

The story involves an aging former boxer, Harry Kvist, who is now working as a freelance debt collector in 1932 Stockholm. Life is hard and living conditions precarious. Harry is also a homosexual who likes rough sex. He is suspected of murdering a man he was supposed to collect money from for a car bought from a farmer on credit. He was set up by a rich homosexual married man and the murder victim was a former driver who knew too much.

The book makes Stockholm look like an unpleasant, unsanitary place with heavy smog from coal burning furnaces used to heat houses at the time.

The writing and translation are effective. I found that the start was a bit slow, but that may be intentional to create that feeling of confusion about the hidden truth being the story. I took me a long time to figure out which characters were connected and how.

This is the first volume of a trilogy with the two other books scheduled to come out in 2016 and 2017.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for access to an advanced copy of the English translation. It will come out on June 7, 2016.



Holmén, Martin. Clinch. Pushkin Vertigo, London, UK, 2016. (originally published in Sweden in 2016)

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