The Summer of Kim Novak is a rare story in that it surprised me and more than once. It is as much the story of friendship and memory as it is a murder mystery. Erik is looking back on a formative event in his childhood, told through his memories. Spending summer vacation at a rundown lake cabin with his reporter/writer brother, Erik, and his new acquaintance Edmund soon become good friends. They know how to be silent together, a rare commodity in friendship. They are in sync. They are fascinated by the stunning Ewa Kaludis, a Kim Novak lookalike, who was Erik’s substitute teacher. You know they are fascinated because they say her full name Ewa Kaludis. The first part of the book tells about the bucolic lakeside adventures and adolescent fantasies that precede the Incident.
The Incident was a surprise to me. I will let it remain one for you as well because it was so pleased that the expected did not happen. It tells the story of the investigation and how suspicion falls on Erik’s brother who was having an affair with Ewa Kaludis. The police suspect Erik and Edmund are not telling the truth and most readers will, too.
The final part is long into the future. The case is still unsolved. His brother lives in South America and is long out of touch. He and Edmund have also been separated by school and circumstance since that summer, but Erik’s wife arranged to connect them again. This prompts Erik’s remembering the past and the truth coming out at last.
I enjoyed The Summer of Kim Novak a lot. I have always liked Håkan Nesser’s series, but this was something new and completely unexpected. It would be a tighter book if the first part spent a little less time on the lazy days of summer. I was wondering if it was ever going to get to the Incident. However, the effect of that time was to really cement our understanding of the two boys and why they might not tell the police what they saw and what they knew. We understand their complicity because we understand how well they get each other. So, it is an important part of making the story work, but it still made me impatient. I love that the story surprised me not once, but twice. That is a rare thing in a mystery.
I received an e-galley of The Summer of Kim Novak from the publisher through Edelweiss