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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Free Falling, As If in a Dream

Leif GW Persson

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To purchase Free Falling, As If in a Dream

Title: Free Falling, As If in a Dream
Author: Leif GW Persson
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007 (Eng. 2014)
Length: 589 pages
Original in: Swedish
Availability: Free Falling, As If in a Dream - US
Falling Free, As If in a Dream - UK
Free Falling, As If in a Dream - Canada
Free Falling, As If in a Dream - India
Comme dans un rêve - France
Zweifel - Deutschland
In caduta libera, come in un sogno - Italia
En caída libre, como en un sueño - España
  • Swedish title: Faller fritt som i en dröm
  • US title: Free Falling, As If in a Dream
  • UK title: Falling Freely, As If In A Dream
  • Translated by Paul Norlen

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Our Assessment:

B+ : good, methodical police procedural

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 16/12/2013 .
Svenska Dagbladet . 18/9/2007 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Strong characterization, a solid grasp of investigatory complexities, and an appreciation of the elusive, chimerical nature of "truth" make this a fine example of a conspiracy thriller." - Publishers Weekly

  • "Man kan fråga sig om lösningen känns trovärdig i förhållande till det verkliga brottet. Men inom kriminalfiktionens ramar är det en suggestiv och engagerande final på en trilogi som måste karakteriseras som ett veritabelt kraftprov med få motstycken i detta land." - Svenska Dagbladet

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Free Falling, As If in a Dream is the final volume in Leif GW Persson's consistently horribly-titled trilogy about the 1986 murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (after Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End and Another Time, Another Life). The cases that were the centerpieces of those novels figure in this volume as well, but it stands reasonably well on its own too; still, familiarity with some of the characters -- especially those involved in the investigating -- adds a bit of depth and color.
       If the previous two novels seemed somewhat peripheral to the actual Palme-murder, this volume is entirely dedicated to an investigation into the long more-or-less unsolved crime (Christer Pettersson was convicted, but then freed on appeal) -- "the most colossal failure in global police history". It's 2007 and with the statute of limitations approaching, Lars Martin Johansson, chief of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, has an itch and he means to scratch it. Re-opening the investigation -- which actually isn't closed -- isn't something he's supposed to be doing (it's someone else's turf), and he tells the small crack team he's assembled:

I've imagined something a lot simpler and more informal. What I want simply is a second opinion.
       'Informal' seems to be the operative word, since the official story is that they're just looking into and advising how best to (re)organize the voluminous accumulated files on the case. But it's pretty clear Johansson has grander designs: he wants to solve the damn case, and he has no intention of going through the usual or proper formalities in doing so (probably a wise move, seeing as how the official investigation has gone everywhere and gotten pretty much nowhere).
       Johansson is legendary for being able 'to see around the corner', i.e. he seems to have sixth sense about what's coming and what people are thinking. Persson paints a pretty convincing portrait of him and his talents -- not super-human, but impressive. The team he's assembled consists of Anna Holt, in her late forties, the young PhD Lisa Mattei, and Jan Lewin -- "An attractive man harboring very strong inner anxiety", Holt finds, and someone who has been around for a while. (There's also the head of the Palme-group, Yngve Flykt, but he's not really kept in the loop.)
       Holt has her doubts about the exercise:
I think the whole idea is crazy. How can three pairs of so-called fresh eyes find anything of value when hundreds of our colleagues haven't in more than twenty years ?
       But Johansson is pretty sure of himself, and he's certainly assembled the right team, with their different strengths. Still, as Lewin notes:
The major problem with this particular case is that it's completely impossible to just sit down and read your way to the truth. Like I already said, regardless of what you think or believe, you can always find testimony to support it.
       Matters are also slightly complicated by the much-reviled Evert Backström's efforts, a policeman who has his own ideas about the case -- and a few contacts. Johansson wants nothing to do with Backström, but Backström won't let go either and remains a sometimes helpful but usually terribly annoying thorn in the side of the investigation.
       Free Falling, As If in a Dream is a patient police procedural, rehashing much of the original Palme investigation -- they look into the scenarios that were considered most likely, including the Christer Pettersson-angle -- even as it goes decidedly its own way. These are very talented investigators, but Persson still makes them realistically slog through a great deal to get anywhere. As in the previous novels, too, however, it's not all about the investigation: the case is 'solved' not much more than three-quarters of the way through but that's hardly the end of it, and while Persson does tie things up nicely enough, some of this is perhaps a bit too easy and convenient -- a bit of a let-down for the finale.
       Still, Free Falling, As If in a Dream is a nicely meticulous and largely convincing thriller, paced much better than the ridiculously breathless way many are; the suspense is also sustained surprisingly well for most of it. Persson tries too hard with a few odds and ends -- like the love-lives of his principals, especially Mattei -- which he feels he has to sprinkle in but then doesn't commit to sufficiently, and Backström remains a difficult figure to properly utilize, but overall the novel is a good, impressive long read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 2 February 2014

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Free Falling, As If in a Dream: Reviews: Leif GW Persson: Other books by Leif GW Persson under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Swedish author Leif GW Persson was born in 1945.

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