Some Kind of Peace is an atmospheric, well-written book. Yet it demands, almost, ambivalence from the reader in continually challenging us with the characters and their behaviour, as well as the way the authors present the crime part of the plot.
Siri Bergman is a psychologist. She’s depressed after the death of her partner Stefan some years previously, living alone in the remote seaside cottage which they bought together because of Stefan’s love of diving. Siri is a nervous, anxious person terrified of the dark, so sleeps with all the lights on. Nevertheless, she does not use curtains or blinds for her windows, it seems.
Siri practices with two colleagues, her best friend Aina and an older man, Sven, who has previously lost his university professorship for having an affair with a student (he’s married to another professor, of gender studies, an ironic touch), so has now turned to private practice. Both Sven and Aina are sex addicts.
Part of the book takes the form of Siri’s therapy sessions with her patients, and these are perhaps the best-described and most interesting sections. Another part is a “mind of the killer” theme, in which someone is stalking Siri, intending to cause her pain and harm. This threat escalates from some nasty tricks on Siri, to the extent that one of her patients is found dead on the shore by the cottage, in circumstances that point suspicion at Siri. The police become involved, and it becomes clear that the stalker is someone who has access to Siri’s patient records – in fact he (or she) may even be one of her other patients. The tension escalates as Siri attempts to live her life while pondering on who might be obsessed with her and wish to cause her harm. A very lonely woman, she becomes attracted to a young policeman who is working on the case.
I found Some Kind of Peace a frustrating book: sometimes sophisticated, sometimes over-simple. It is well written, and in many places intelligent and absorbing. The crime plot, however, is unpleasant as I do not like reading about the point of view of someone who abuses and exploits vulnerable women. Some of Siri’s behaviour seems incomprehensible for someone under threat, and her passivity towards a couple of men who make unwelcome passes to her during the book seems at odds with other times when she is very direct in conversation. Her loneliness is very well-conveyed, as she attempts to come to terms with a double loss in her past. Yet the outcome of the crime plot, when we learn the identity of the stalker, is one of those “pick one from the cast of characters” let-downs.
I bought this book.