1793 The Wolf and the Watchman

The year is 1793. More than a year has passed since the death of Gustav III of Sweden and the nation is ruled with an iron fist by lord of the realm Gustaf Adolf Reuterholm. In the wake of the old king’s passing, trust has turned into a sparse commodity. Paranoia and whispered conspiracies can be found at every corner.

A mutilated body is discovered in the malodorous waters of Fatburen Lake on the island of Södermalm. Missing both its legs and arms, the body has been disfigured beyond recognition. Though Cecil Winge of the Stockholm Police is himself marked for an early death by consumption, he takes on the case of solving the mystery of the Fatburen corpse. Cecil soon finds himself entangled in a web of dark secrets and boundless evil, a web with threads reaching all the way to the upper echelons of Stockholm society.

In his debut novel The Wolf and the Watchman, Niklas Natt och Dag paints a compelling portrait of late 18th century Stockholm. Through the eyes of the novel’s four narrators the powdered and painted veneer of the era is peeled back to reveal the frightful yet fascinating reality hidden beyond the dry facts of history texts. With one foot firmly planted in literary tradition and the other in hardboiled suspense literature, Natt och Dag has with The Wolf and the Watchman created an entirely new genre of suggestive and realistic historical noir.

One of Humo’s “Top 12 Fiction Books of 2018”.
Chosen as “Best Crime Novel of 2018” by Adresseavisen.
One of Aftenposten’s “Best Crime Novels of 2018”.
One of Dagbladet’s “Favorite books of 2018”.

“It’s The Alienist in 18th Century Stockholm: Brawny, bloody, intricate, enthralling—and the best historical thriller I’ve read in twenty years.”
-A.J. Finn

The Wolf and the Watchman is an unexpected masterpiece, a wild and unusual mix of genres that in one fell swoop succeeds in renewing the entire crime fiction genre.”
-Arne Dahl

“This is a thrilling, unnerving, clever and beautiful story. Reading it is like giving a little gift to oneself.”
-Fredrik Backman

“I strongly recommend this. A remarkably good novel. Firstly, it depicts the era in a very skillful way and, secondly, it’s extremely well-written.”
-Leif GW Persson

“It IS good. Insanely good actually.”
-Malin Persson Giolito


  • “Natt och Dag writes sensory, horror-inducing descriptions of the lives and deaths of the poor inhabitants of Stockholm. At the same time, his characters almost spring off the page, they are so human and so fully realized. Natt och Dag doesn’t apologize for human nature, nor does he excuse our crimes and basest cruelties, but his deep dive into the dark corners of our psyches, as well as this harsh time in history, is both chilling and thought-provoking. Relentless, well-written, and nearly impossible to put down.”

    Kirkus Reviews *Starred Review*, US

  • “Wonderfully written. /…/ [Niklas Natt och Dag’s] detailed descriptions of locations and characters and his well-crafted story ensure that The Wolf and the Watchman takes the reader along on a journey that does not end till after the final scene has been read.”

    De Standaard, Belgium

  • “Stylistically astonishing.”

    Het Nieuwsblad, Belgium

  • “A hard-boiled historical thriller that immerses the reader deeply into Sweden’s history.”

    HUMO, Belgium

  • “A vivacious book. The Wolf and the Watchman is a virtuously written, pitch-black thriller.”

    TROUW, Netherlands

  • “[A] grotesquely fascinating and magnificent debut /…/ [Niklas Natt och Dag] is a newcomer who has written an exceptionally good crime novel that stands out from the rest of the crime novels of today. For while this is a crime story with a bestial edge, it is also a historical novel full of smell and color. /…/ The Wolf and the Watchman is something very special. For as the author manages to keep the suspense high during the investigation of the barbaric murder (which is recounted in detail, and where the amputation occurred while the victim was still alive), it is at the same time the social depiction of Stockholm in 1793 that gives the novel its very own character. /…/ Exquisitely researched.”

    Bok 365, Norway

  • “Magnificent ”Stockholm Noir” and an excellent debut /…/ A bullseye of a historical novel that lays bare the roots of the modern and contradictory Sweden /…/ [Niklas Natt och Dag] writes glisteningly and organically /…/ The novel is not only unusually successful and rewarding when seen as a depiction of an era; it has a clear and stimulating value also in other regards.”

    Aftenposten, Norway

  • “A literary tour de force /…/ a smart and suspenseful story that you’ll remember for a long time to come.”


    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “[An] exceptionally thrilling and well-written novel inspired by the classics. This brilliant historical novel won ‘Best Debut’ at the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award in 2017. /…/ The author with the marvelous last name has really done a deep dive into a Stockholm that stinks of sickness and hunger, with a corrupt police force and a class division that gives the nobility leeway to perform their perversions. /…/ The demanding detective work, with gruesome revelations set in corrupt surroundings are both mesmerizing and repulsive thanks to the author’s skill! /…/ The dynamic duo Winge and Cardell is a pleasure to follow, unless you are very squeamish. /…/ A colleague described the novel as an enticing mix of Dickens, Balzac and Céline. I’m definitely supporting that statement!”


    Adresseavisen, Norway

  • “[The Wolf and the Watchman is] without comparison the best crime novel I’ve read in 2018. And it’s written by a debutant. Stockholm in 1793. Poverty. Stench and drunkenness. A very odd duo investigates a crime so grotesque that you reach for the booze without thinking.”

    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “An utterly impressive debut /…/ Brilliant milieu depictions, unsettling portrayals of society, and written with a perfect balance of period-specific expressions and contemporary storytelling techniques.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “A brilliant novel /.../ The Wolf and the Watchman is a page-turner/.../ [Niklas Natt och Dag] ruthlessly refuses to turn his gaze away from the dirt, drunkenness, filth, cynicism, poverty and disease. /.../ Now and then, in the middle of this disconsolation, loathsomeness, pitch-black, he skillfully tosses in scenes of melancholic tenderness that hit all the harder simply because they don’t seem to be calculated to give the reader hope, but rather accentuate life’s impossibility. If you give in to tears every so often, it’s nothing to be ashamed of – this novel is meant to hurt. And perhaps there is in Niklas Natt och Dag’s brilliant debut even a message – that which was born from this class society was something better: democracy, freedom of speech, human rights. It simply wasn’t better in the old days.”

    Aftonbladet, Sweden

  • “The strength in the storytelling lies in the connection between historial expressions and words and a contemporary way of packaging the whole thing. I am deeply impressed.”

    Mariestads-Tidningen, Sweden

  • The Wolf and the Watchman is an all the way through beautifully phrased and powerful text that completely captivates the reader throughout the entire novel. It’s an entertaining and frightful story with a solid base in a reality lost to time. ”

    BTJ, Sweden

  • “The set of characters is especially well portrayed, the 18th century milieus insightful and vivid. /…/ It’s rough, cold, cynical and sometimes bloody, but there’s also warmth and compassion. ”

    DAST Magazine, Sweden

  • “I’m quickly absorbed by the milieus and the prose. /…/ A very literary historical thriller. /…/ this is the best I’ve read since Tom Rob Smith’s great Stalin thriller, Child 44.”

    BokBoxen, Sweden

Download all reviews
Photo: #{publication.artist.imageByline}Niklas Natt och Dag
  • Literary
Reading material

English translation

Swedish edition

Rights sold

Brazil, Intrínseca

Bulgaria, Uniscorp

Canada, Simon & Schuster

Catalonia, Empúries

China, Beijing Mediatime

Croatia, Fraktura

Czech Republic, Argo

Denmark, Rosinante

Estonia, Eesti Raamat

Finland, Johnny Kniga

France, Sonatine

Germany, Piper

Greece, Metaixmio

Hungary, Alexandra

Iceland, Forlagid

Italy, Einaudi

Japan, Shogakukan

Korea, Sejong

Latvia, Zvaigzne ABC

Netherlands, Prometheus

Norway, Cappelen Damm

Poland, Sonia Draga

Portugal, Penguin Random House

Romania, Litera

Russia, Ripol

Serbia, Samizdat

Spain, Salamandra

Sweden, Forum

Turkey, Dogan Egmont

UK, John Murray

US, Atria

More from Niklas Natt och Dag