Den döende detektiven

Den döende detektiven The Dying Detective

Retired Chief of the National Crime Police and Swedish Security Service Lars Martin Johansson has just suffered a stroke. He is paying the price for a life of excess – be it stress, good food or fine wines. He has dangerously high blood pressure and his heart could fail at the slightest excitement. In the hospital, a chance encounter with a neurologist who confides an important piece of information about the rape and murder of a nine year-old girl 25 years earlier invigorates Lars Martin Johansson’s unparalleled police instincts. However, the period for prosecution expired only weeks earlier and that isn’t the only limitation. Lars Martin Johansson is determined to solve the atrocious crime – from his deathbed.

The inimitable style, distinct voice and dark humor of Leif GW Persson, along with the fascinating exploration of a 25 year-old murder case, serves to make The Dying Detective a true masterpiece of the genre and one of Persson’s best novels to date.


The CWA International Dagger UK 2017
Shortlisted for the Petrona Award (Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year) UK 2017
The Danish Academy of Crime Writers’ Palle Rosenkrantz Prize (Best Crime Novel) Denmark 2012
The Finnish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award (Best Crime Novel) Finland 2012
The Glass Key (Best Scandinavian Crime Novel) The Nordic Countries 2011
The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award (Best Crime Novel of the Year) Sweden 2010
Close award list


  • “Swedish mysterian Persson brings a memorable creation to a close in this pensive whodunit. /…/ There aren’t many red herrings: the real mystery in this well-paced though brooding story is what to do with what Johansson uncovers about the “perfectly ordinary, decent Swede” to whom all the evidence points. Indeed, the crux of the story lies in Johansson’s wrestling with an appropriate solution to a crime that, incredibly, is fast slipping to the other side of the statute of limitations: does he let the bad guy get away, or does he take justice into his own hands? A knotty, sinuous story that leads to a hard-won resolution—and a decidedly conclusive end.”

    Kirkus Reviews, US

  • “[A] cleverly plotted police procedural ”

    Publishers Weekly, US

  • “A brilliant police procedural /…/ it is almost impossible to put down. An absolutely masterful crime novel.”

    Booklist *Starred Review*, US

  • “There’s a mystery — a 25-year-old cold case — in The Dying Detective, but it’s not the most interesting part of Leif GW Persson’s latest novel. It’s a tale of aging, of coming to grips with death and illness and the meaning of life. As in many Scandinavian novels, it’s a dark vision. /…/ Mr. Persson devotes much of this novel to his protagonist’s thoughts, some spoken, others unspoken, at a time when his life has changed and he realizes things will never be the same as they used to be. Tough stuff, but the author handles it with humor and irony. Mr. Persson’s writing (at least in this excellent translation) has a light touch that makes it bearable to read, even entertaining.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, US

  • “Exhaustively detailed police procedural, painstakingly translated by Neil Smith.”

    The New York Times Book Review, US

  • “The story moves steadily along, the pages turning without effort, and the mystery and its investigation hold our interest throughout. Additionally, the translation from the original Swedish by Neil Smith is smooth and transparent. /…/ If you’re an aficionado of the genre, or even if you’re new to it and would like to try a representative sample, grab yourself a grilled sausage with sauerkraut and mustard, a glass of Swedish vodka, and read this book!”

    New York Journal of Books, US

  • “Persson is more authentic than Stieg Larsson… With this amazing novel, Persson proves himself to be a significant voice, classic yet original, on the overly-exhausted Scandinavian crime fiction scene. A blend of tradition and innovation.”

    La Repubblica, Italy

  • “Read the book for its teeming sarcasm, its humor and its portrait of a dying detective and his tender, almost beautiful, relationships to friends and family – and perhaps to get a sharpened view of morals and revenge, also within the police force. Gifted entertainment set in a macho world.”


    Fyns Amtsavis, Denmark

  • “Leif GW Persson is quite simply an oasis… An extraordinarily fascinating, double-edged story that is extremely hard to put down.”


    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • “[The Dying Detective] is an excellent book that is clever, amusing and imaginative without being predictable or prejudiced.”

    Folketidende, Denmark

  • “The weightiest reason why one should read The Dying Detective is Persson’s excellent prose and characteristically bone-dry humor.”

    Børsen, Denmark

  • The Dying Detective is simply phenomenally brilliant without one single unnecessary page.”


    Politiken, Denmark

  • “A meticulous masterpiece.”

    Sydsvenskan, Sweden

  • “[Leif GW Persson] remains unthreatened as the King of Swedish crime writing. Period.”

    Kvällsposten, Sweden

  • “The novel has all the qualities that readers have come to expect from this author: intelligent entertainment, suspense, coarse humor and small portions of self-irony.”

    Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden

  • “[Leif GW Persson] is a divinely gifted storyteller.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “[Leif GW Persson] has inherited the position that was once held by Vilhelm Moberg: the author as public ombudsman, one who examines Swedish society, and speaks up when something is wrong.”

    Sveriges Radio, Sweden

  • “Magical!”


    Expressen, Sweden

Photo: Thron Ullberg Leif GW Persson
  • Crime
Reading material

Swedish edition

German edition

Rights sold

Czech Republic, Moba

Denmark, Modtryk

Finland, Otava

France, Rivages

Germany, Btb

Italy, Marsilio

Japan, Tokyo Sogensha

Korea, Elixir

Netherlands, Cargo

Norway, Cappelen Damm

Poland, Czarna Owca

Russia, Centrepolygraph

Spain, Grijalbo (World Spanish)

Sweden, Albert Bonniers

UK, Doubleday

US, Knopf

Film rights sold

Sweden, SVT (Swedish National Television)

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