This Danish novel has not been translated into English, but as I use it as part of my Cozy Mystery Challenge, I will try to convey the style and atmosphere of it.
(A free, abridged translation of the dialogue on the first page):
– What are they like? I asked.
– Stinking rich, Paul said.
– That is not a quality.
– Of course it is. Or it will be. That was where he went wrong.
– Papa Hemingway. Don´t you remember when Scott Fitzgerald says to him: there is a difference between the very rich and the rest of us. And Hemingway answers drily: yes, they have more money … But Fitzgerald was right. There is a difference. They are different.
– In many ways. The very rich see the world in another light, and with good reason, because it is another world you live in when you have a fortune. Do you remember poor Marie Antoinette who asked if the Parisians couldn´t eat cake when they had no bread. Any school child could hear that it was silly… She lived in another world, and that may be her stupidity. It is still like that. Two different worlds. If you have a very rich friend and ask him to find you a reasonable hotel room, he will call the best hotel in town and ask for a reasonable room, and it will cost you five times as much as you had calculated on. He has just not understood what you meant…
So a stinking rich couple move to the small closed community in which our female amateur detective, Gitte, lives. Of course they have brought some dark secrets along (to add to the ones which are already fermenting there). Secrets which are so important that people are ready to kill for them.
So in many ways this is a classic cozy mystery, and a rather fine one in my opinion. The female ´detective´ is a bit unusual, however. She divorced her alcoholic husband a few years ago, and lives on her own in an old, neglected house. She has a really good relationship with her neighbour, the tall, successful architect Paul, but is very unwilling to give up her house and her independence to move in with him. This must have seemed strange, perhaps even wrong in the Danish countryside of the 1970s, and a female friend does indeed blame her that she only plays with Paul´s feelings.
A ´teaser´ from the first chapter. Gitte and Paul only just avoid running over a neighbour who steps out in front of their car:
“How little one knows, really. Later I have thought about that episode a lot. How lucky were we? If I had run over Ingeborg that day, four, no three people, might still have been alive. And Ingeborg died anyway.”
A true cozy mystery, and Kirsten Holst has written several of them – quiet, fast reads, and never too much blood or gore.
Kirsten Holst, De unge, de rige og de smukke (1976).
Anmeldt til min ´cozy mystery challenge´.
Et ´stinkende rigt´ ægtepar flytter til det lille samfund hvor den kvindelige hovedperson Gitte bor. Selvfølgelig har de dystre hemmeligheder med i bagagen (som de kan føje til de hemmeligheder, som allerede gærer på stedet). Hemmeligheder så vigtige, at nogen er parat til at dræbe for dem.
Så på mange måder er bogen en klassisk hygge-krimi, og endda et udmærket eksempel på genren. Den kvindelige amatørdetektiv er dog lidt usædvanlig. Hun blev skilt fra sin alkoholiserede ægtemand et par år før bogen begynder, og bor alene i et gammelt, forsømt hus. Hun har et rigtig godt forhold til sin nabo, den høje, succesrige arkitekt Paul, men er højst uvillig vil at opgive sit hus og sin uafhængighed for at flytte sammen med ham. Det må have virket mærkeligt, måske endda forkert ude på landet i 70erne, og en kvindelig nabo bebrejder hende da også, at hun bare leger med Pauls følelser.
Et citat fra første kapitel, hvor Gitte og Paul lige netop har undgået at køre over den kvindelige nabo, som træder lige ud foran deres bil.
”Hvor ved man i virkeligheden lidt. Senere har jeg ofte spekuleret over den episode. Hvor heldige var vi i grunden? Hvis jeg havde kørt Ingeborg ned den dag, havde fire, nej tre mennesker måske endnu været i live.”
Typisk hyggekrimi i bedste Kirsten Holst-stil. Som der står på bagsiden: ”letlæst og befriende ublodig – trods adskillige mord.”