Artis-Ann , Features Writer

Money Is A Cruel Master: The Woman Inside By M. T. Edvardsson

Imagine doing a jigsaw – I used to love them. First, find your corners, then gather the straight edges and then start building images. I often found scraps here and there and, fitting several pieces together, would lay them down ready to find the right place to slot them in. That’s the best way to describe The Woman Inside. The picture on the box is clear: there are two dead bodies in Chapter One which gets us off to a flying start. In her beautiful mansion home, Regina Rytter is found bludgeoned to death and her husband, Steven, a paediatrician, appears to have taken an overdose and lies dead in the bedroom. Murder/suicide or just murder? The police suspect the latter.

Then we get to meet the principal players – the corners: Bill and Sally, father and delightful young daughter, desperate for money and still grieving for wife and mum, Miranda, who died of cancer just last year, causing their life to fall apart; Karla, a student whose ambition is to be a judge and who currently cleans to pay her way through law school, becomes Bill’s lodger to help pay his rent and ease her own financial situation. She struggles with feelings of guilt about her addict mother who seems unable to accept help. And then there’s Jennica, the black sheep of a wealthy family, who at 30, is still studying, still looking for love and offering telephone advice to desperate people whose calls pay her bills. They are all flawed characters with demons of their own and we get to know them well. They bind the story together.

We learn that things are not necessarily as they seem and even the final resolution is not exactly what we anticipated, as desperate people do desperate things and are forced to tell desperate lies ...The narrative of events is not linear, just like the jumbled pieces of the jigsaw, but the mental gymnastics are not hard. Moving across different time frames, both before and after the deaths, each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the main characters and simple chapter headings make it easy to follow. These chapters are interspersed with an occasional newspaper article and extracts from the police interrogation of witnesses and the suspect, Bill, who is arrested for the Rytter murder. Little by little, we are able to piece together the events which take place. We learn that things are not necessarily as they seem and even the final resolution is not exactly what we anticipated, as desperate people do desperate things and are forced to tell desperate lies – and to live with them later.

Like the pieces of a jigsaw, of course everything is linked, not that you realise that at first. Karla cleans for the Rytters before she becomes Bill’s lodger. Jennica is known to both a desperate Bill and the charismatic Steven. Regina, a wealthy woman in her own right, and daughter of a well-known author, lies ill in bed but what exactly is wrong with her? The mysterious virus which struck her down is not remedied, it seems, by the medication her husband provides. In her lucid moments, she appeals to Karla for help. This does not go unnoticed by Steven who shows a somewhat harsher side to his usually endearing self.

...Nordic Noir, a sinister tale touching on troubled pasts, loneliness, insecurity, lies and much, much more.Temptation is a terrible thing. When something glitters among a jumble of trinkets in front of you and your stomach is rumbling, why not take it? Who will miss it? When someone is guilty, why shouldn’t they pay? And why should it always be the law which exacts retribution? Addiction, of any sort, can be a terrible master and often leads to bad decisions. And what of love? Love is blind. Love hurts.

Well written, with clear characterisation and realistic dialogue, The Woman Inside is Nordic Noir, a sinister tale touching on troubled pasts, loneliness, insecurity, lies and much, much more. And, by the by, what a great name for a cat: Dog. Now that appealed to my sense of humour in an otherwise dark tale.


The Woman Inside is published by Pan