THE BLINDED MAN is the first of the Intercrime crime novels by Arne Dahl, pseudonym of literary novelist, poet and critic Jan Arnald. So popular are these novels that their TV adaptation is simply called ARNE DAHL.
If you’re into those novels that are absurdly polished exercises in structure, mechanics, all flawless tracks and joints and that great bell-like sound when all the parts of it suddenly come together, you’ll love this. It is a glorious performance in Building A Book.
It was written in 1999, and is solidly within the original Nordic Noir space, being very much about Swedish society and politics. It is… curious on the subject of women, and cannot quite decide whether it’s the detective protagonist who can solve every puzzle except women, or whether it thinks all women are unknowable aliens.
On the other hand, it has a large detective who performs a violent arrest on a moving van.
It’s the story of the killing of a big important man, and the last time a big important man was assassinated in Sweden the police and security services really fucked it up, so this time they’re assembling a crack team of Cops Who Don’t Follow The Rules to handle it. Yeah, I know. Roll with it. Arnald isn’t trying to change the world. It’s a largely unapologetic yarn. With moments of chilly, distanced oddness.
Given that it was clearly made as a commercial move, the book feels remarkably uncynical. It’s really not afraid of being odd. Its voice is wry and bone-dry. And, as noted, it’s quite the masterclass in building a machine.
It was wonderfully unputdownable.