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Friday, 1 December 2017

'Clinch’ by Martin Holmén



Published by Pushkin Vertigo,
13 July 2017.
ISBN: 978 1 782271 92 5 (PB)

This English language translation is the author’s first in a gritty Scandi noir trilogy featuring heavy drinker Harry Kvist, anti-hero, bi-sexual ex-boxer with a load of personal baggage and a nose for trouble and detection.   The story, narrated in the first person, is rooted in 1930s squalid Stockholm with its grime, slums, bootleggers and gangsters magnificently probed and exposed, a fascinating amalgam of the grinding conditions of the desperate destitute and the hedonism of the decadent elite that is light years away from today’s egalitarian city. 

 When one bitter winter’s day Kvist is assigned to chase up defaulter Zetterberg and beats him up to teach him a lesson, he becomes the prime suspect when, shortly afterwards, the debtor is found brutally murdered.   Kvist is implicated; he’s hauled in for questioning by the police and worked over but is reluctantly released when they can pin nothing on him.  But he knows he’s still in their sights and the hunt is on to nail those who’ve framed him.

Kvist’s determination to search for the one credible witness who can provide him with a cast iron alibi   brings him face to face with Stockholm’s gambling dens, seedy brothels, pimps and luxury hotels via betrayals and his sexual encounters with men (an act illegal at the time and classified as a mental illness) and an ageing, needy actress.

The author doesn’t pull any punches and readers of a squeamish disposition may prefer to look away but that said this does prove  to be  a very promising atmospheric debut that moves at a good clip and, despite Kvist’s many character flaws, he is mesmerizing and one wants him to live to fight another day.
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Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

Martin Holmén is a Swedish author of noir fiction. His critically acclaimed debut - the first instalment of the Harry Kvist trilogy - Clinch was released in Sweden and Australia in 2015, and the United Kingdom and France in 2016. The second one Down For The Count was published in 2017, and the third and finishing installment Slugger is due 2017.







Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.


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