1793 The Wolf and the Watchman

Cardell & Winge #1

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

“An excellent story with corkscrew twists and a wonderfully clever ending, completely worthy of Cecil Winge’s splendid mind. Winge and Cardell are thoroughly engaging characters, and they give the whole book a powerful heart.”
-Natasha Pulley

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

“Thrilling, atmospheric and page turning. The Wolf and the Watchman evokes a time and place so deeply you can practically feel it on your skin.”
-Kate Hamer

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

“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

“A historical thriller that is unparalleled in suspense and literary quality. It’s raw, beautiful, heartbreaking and extremely captivating until the very last page. The Wolf and the Watchman deserves a place among the classics of the genre.”
-Erik Axl Sund


Prix Nouvelles Voix du Polar (Best Translated Crime Fiction - Finalist ) France 2020
The Icepick Translation Award (Best Translated Crime Fiction) Iceland 2020
Longlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger UK 2019
Shortlisted for the Golden Bullet Award Norway 2019
Shortlisted for LiveLib Readers’ Choice Awards (Best Crime Novel) Russia 2018
Storytel Awards (Best Fiction) Sweden 2018
Crimetime Specsavers Award (Crime Debut of the Year) Sweden 2018
Book of the Year Award Sweden 2018
The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award (Best Debut) Sweden 2017
Close award list


  • “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

  • “Complex and richly realized /…/ Besides the rich and fascinating characters, Natt Och Dag’s greatest strength may be selecting details to convey a city of two centuries past. /…/ This is Natt och Dag’s first published novel, but it seems too skillful and too assured to be his first writing /…/ [He] surely has more fine work ahead of him.”

    New York Journal of Books, US

  • “[A] masterly first novel /…/ The book’s structure, which includes flashbacks and multiple perspectives, will remind many of Iain Pear’s An Instance of the Fingerpost, and Natt och Dag uses this structure to heighten suspense and deepen characterization. The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers named this the bets debut novel of 2017, and U.S. readers will be likewise impressed.”

    Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*, US

  • “For those who like their mysteries dark, this is a standout. The characterization is excellent, as is the evocation of eighteenth-century Stockholm, an uncommon historical setting that provides a vibrant backdrop for this unusual mystery. Natt och Dag’s side-plots dovetail neatly, his pacing is skillful, and he explores with aplomb his novel’s main theme, Homo homini lupus est — Man is wolf to man.”

    Booklist, US

  • “The sense of a ticking clock pervades Niklas Natt och Dag’s swift-paced, cinematic first novel /…/ In some ways, The Wolf and the Watchman calls to mind another auspicious debut murder mystery set in an unfamiliar place and time: Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It’s been nearly 40 years since that foreign-language historical thriller captured the world’s imagination, thoroughly engrossing readers and propelling its author into international stardom. So we’re about due, and Natt och Dag is certainly a worthy candidate.”

    BookPage, US

  • “For Stieg Larsson fans, a new voice – and an even darker side of Sweden. It’s early to be pegging the year’s best books, but The Wolf and the Watchman, Niklas Natt och Dag’s stunning debut, is sure to be one of them. /…/ Like Eco’s novel [The Name of the Rose], The Wolf and the Watchman is a cerebral, immersive page-turner whose detective is a rationalist trapped in a world ruled by superstition. /…/ [It has] a moral heft reminiscent of works by Graham Greene.”

    Washington Post, US

  • The Wolf and the Watchman is a brutal book of Scandinavian noir you won’t soon forget. /…/ Niklas Natt och Dag is the latest Swedish author poised to become an international bestseller. /…/ Natt och Dag sets the scene vividly, conveying the weight of the atmosphere and mapping the historical city with convincing attention to detail. The novel reads like a season of True Detective, brutal and haunting and sometimes exceedingly gruesome, anchored by a powerful sense of place and a memorable cast of characters. /…/ The Wolf and the Watchman is a bleak, miserable, compelling novel. You’ll only want to read it once, but you won’t soon forget it.”

    USA Today, US

  • “A tantalizing mystery, a foreboding, claustrophobic sense of place and a pair of unforgettable investigators.”

    Newsday, US

  • “The latest Scandi sensation.”

    Sunday Times, UK

  • “Niklas Natt och Dag serves up a gripping thriller. /…/ Excellently translated by Ebba Segerberg, this gripping historical crime thriller surely announces the arrival of a fine new European talent. /…/ A vivid and absorbing trip through 18th century Stockholm, its unjust establishment and underbelly. As, perhaps, it should be – Niklas Natt och Dag’s surname translates as “night and day”. Apt.”

    The Guardian, UK

  • “Chilling /…/ Vividly written, The Wolf and the Watchman is a superbly detailed historical mystery that delivers an uncommonly bleak variation on the genre’s pursuit of truth and justice.”

    The Irish Times, UK

  • “A gripping, shocking read.”

    The Times, UK

  • “This gripping historical thriller surely announces the arrival of a fine new European talent. Vivid and absorbing.”

    The Observer, UK

  • “Swedish noir doesn’t get much darker”

    The Herald, UK

  • “A dark, vibrant, and fierce novel, almost physical. A striking debut. An author to follow.”

    Le Parisien, France

  • “Stylistically astonishing.”

    Het Nieuwsblad, Belgium

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

    HUMO, Belgium

  • “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

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

    TROUW, Netherlands

  • “Niklas Natt och Dag’s The Wolf and the Watchman is a masterpiece. /…/ This thriller will keep you on your toes for the entire 496 pages. /…/ The Wolf and the Watchman is a highly intense work of suspense that never loses its spark.”

    Unabhängige Tageszeitung für Oberösterreich, Austria

  • “An atmospheric, rich historical detective story with brilliantly drawn characters.”

    Buchkultur, Austria

  • “[A] wickedly entertaining crime novel from a cruel past. /…/ The Wolf and the Watchman is a well-structured, filthy and grim historical tale from 18th century Stockholm. /…/ It is a creepy and cruel murder mystery that takes off already in chapter one. A plot that is ingeniously and intelligently tied together with a lot of twists. /…/ 18th century Stockholm is depicted so it comes alive, even the ugly sides. /…/ The Wolf and the Watchman is also an impressively atmospheric entertainment novel with a bygone era as its backdrop. /…/ [The Wolf and the Watchman] is diabolically good. ”


    Berlingske, Denmark

  • “It’s a nicely structured plot, told with a brutal and harsh elegance.”


    Politiken, Denmark

  • “As a historical novel, it’s with its precise details violently suggestive. As a story it’s extremely fascinating with its magnificent use of literary tools. As an existential manifesto it’s a realization of bottomless human evil, but also recognizes the possibility of love, loyalty and faith in reason and the triumph of the good. This is the best historical crime novel since Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.”


    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • “Stockholm in 1793 is the backdrop for an incredibly interesting, atmospheric and well-written historical Nordic Noir crime novel.”

    Litteratursiden, Denmark

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


    Verdens Gang, 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] 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

  • “[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 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

  • “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

  • “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

Photo: Gabriel Liljevall Niklas Natt och Dag
  • Literary
Reading material

Swedish edition

English translation

Rights sold

Arab World, Aser Al-Kotob

Brazil, Intrínseca

Bulgaria, Uniscorp

Canada, Simon & Schuster

Catalonia, Proa

China, Beijing Mediatime (Simplified Chinese)

Croatia, Fraktura

Czech Republic, Argo

Denmark, Gutkind

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

Lithuania, Alma Littera

Netherlands, Prometheus

North Macedonia, Artkonekt

Norway, Cappelen Damm

Poland, Sonia Draga

Portugal, Suma de Letras

Romania, Litera

Russia, Ripol

Serbia, Samizdat

Slovakia, Tatran

Spain, Salamandra

Sweden, Forum

Taiwan, Fantasy Foundation (Complex Chinese)

Türkiye, Dogan Egmont

UK, John Murray

Ukraine, Ranok

US, Atria

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