Obscuritas can be described as a trifle, but a very entertaining one. The depiction of the double act’s friendship is finely tuned and poignant, and there is nothing negative to say about the suspense.
Lagercrantz shows his characters an almost paternal concern. Rather than wallowing in pubescent, graphic obscenities – the actual slaying – like less conscientious writers (not to mention scriptwriters), he prefers to pursue the characters’ human traits. This is not only sympathetic, but it also aids the genre’s somewhat lame sense of credibility. Nobody, or very few, is allowed to be completely evil, snooty, idiotic or – for that matter – good. Therefore, don’t be surprised if the Rekke/Vargas series turns out to be a sales success.
It is an ambitious and slightly complex plot that wants to follow the conventional thriller template on one hand, but on the other hand wants to tell us something more. Some parts are allowed to take time while others feel a bit rushed and occasionally the suspense ends up lost at the expense of the not entirely uncomplicated puzzle. Music is allocated an important role and the story about it and the people it involves, adds necessary vigor. Here, the plot takes a surprising turn and introduces a portrayal of the propulsion of dreams that is both affecting and engaging. The depictions of Rekke and Watson, sorry Vargas, gradually deepen after the predictable introduction. Along the way Rekke becomes more than genius, upper-class, muscular arms, graceful hands and luminescent aura, and Vargas gains an opportunity to shed the rigid ghetto guise. By the time the case is solved, they have become a team, the year is 2004 and the story ends with the characters receiving the next task – which just happens to work as a trailer for the next book.
It is a magnificent work that Agnes Lidbeck has achieved with Nikky’s Book. The size is certainly impressive, but the accomplishment even more so. With this novel something completely new appears in her authorship, a distinct difference from the condensed, almost schematic efficiency of her previous novels. Lidbeck’s style is fully recognisable, often terse sentences with assertive observations, but the fact that the plot extends across so many pages makes it sinuous and dynamic; the slightly barren streak that could be found in Supporting Act and The Rift does not exist here. Nikky’s Book has softer edges /… / Through all the years and all the entanglements, the narrator gently guides the reader with comments about the zeitgeist, with reminders that we are dealing with fiction – a fabricated story. And yet everything feels so sincere, so vivid and intimate. Kummelvik becomes such a lucid place, so cinematic, and the characters companions, such familiar company that it almost hurts to leave them – those who are still alive – in the end.