onsdag den 23. marts 2011

Palle Rosenkrantz, Hvad skovsøen gemte (1903/1967)



 Denne bog, som regnes for den første egentlige danske kriminalroman, er en klassiker, som jeg længe gerne har villet læse - og have til at stå på min hylde. For nylig faldt jeg over den i et antikvariat - for otte kroner!

Et lille barnelig dukker op til overfladen af en idyllisk skovsø i Nordsjælland.

"Holst bøjede sig ned over liget - det var et næppe fuldbåren barnelig, der øjensynlig havde ligget nogen tid på bunden af graven, det var ganske nøgent, som en lille mumie med fladtrykt ansigt, men endnu tilsyneladende friskt. Det så ud, som om halsen bar et stranguleringsmærke."

Liget bliver meget belejligt fundet af Eigil Holst, den dygtige og ambitiøse overbetjent fra København, og ritmester Arvid von Ankerkrone. Den lokale herredsfoged opklarer tilsyneladende sagen i en håndevending, da en bondepige tilstår at have dræbt sit nyfødte barn samme vinter. Men efter sin undersøgelse af liget griber distriktslægen ind og hævder, der ikke er tale om det rigtige barn. Herredsfogeden vrisser over dette spild af tid, men bøjer sig for lægevidenskaben og dræner søen. På bunden ligger en nøgen, ung kvinde, bundet fast til to store sten. Da 26-årige Eigil Holst allerede har udvist initiativ og intelligens, låner herredsfogeden ham og sætter ham på sagen.

Med en godt hundrede år gammel roman kan det ikke overraske, at personerne er lidt stereotype. De mandlige er stive og (selv)højtidelige, og kvinderne falder i to kategorier: de løsagtige fristere, som bringer selv gentlemen på gale veje, og de fine, sarte kvinder af god familie. Den kvindelige hovedperson (bortset fra offeret) er Ulla Ankerstjerne, som ´med ægte kvindelig takt´ undgår at tale om den kriminalsag, hendes far og Eigil Holst er dybt involveret i. Og selvfølgelig forventes der en langt højere sexualmoral af pæne kvinder end af mænd.

I det store og hele blev jeg positivt overrasket over første del af bogen, men derefter viser det sig, at der ligger en noget melodramatisk intrige bag mordet, samt en god del romantik. Så bogen lever ikke helt op til bagsideteksten: "en dansk udgave af Sherlock Holmes London i gaslys". Alligevel er den bestemt værd at læse for krimientusiaster, da der er tilløb til reelt detektivarbejde og anvendelse af retsmedicinske oplysninger.


Palle Rosenkrantz, What the Forest Lake Hid (1903/1967).
Though this novel has not been translated into English, it deserves a proper presentation. As it is often regarded as the first Danish crime novel, it is a classic I have wanted to read for a long time so when I stumbled on a cheap second-hand example of the 1967 edition in good condition I didn´t hesitate.

The body of a newborn baby is found in an idyllic lake on Zealand. Very conveniently, it is discovered by Eigil Holst, a competent and ambitious policeman from Copenhagen, and Arvid von Ankerkrone, another important character. The case seems to be solved in no time when a country girl confesses that she killed her newborn baby a few months ago. The medical officer of health claims the body cannot be her baby, however, and even though the local authorities grumble about expenses and waste of time, they drain the lake - and find the body of a naked woman, tied to two boulders. As young Eigil Holst has shown initiative and intelligence, he is attached to the case.

With a hundred year old novel I was not surprised that the characters were mainly stereotypes. The men seem stiff and pompous, and the women fall into two categories: the loose women who can lead even gentlemen astray, and the delicate damsels of good family.

On the whole the first part was a positive surprise, but the plot turned into a rather melodramatic intrigue, including a good deal of romance. So in my opinion the book does not quite live up to the blurb: "a Danish Sherlock Holmes". Nevertheless Danish crime enthusiasts should read it as it offers a promising detective and the use of forensic evidence.

11 kommentarer:

Margot Kinberg sagde ...

Dorte - What an interesting novel! The plot really does sound intriguing even if the characters are not, and I like it that this has the seeds of more modern crime fiction. I'm glad you found it.

....Petty Witter sagde ...

How interesting. I take it that this wans't the cover on the 1903 edition - if so it must have been considered very risque at the time.

Dorte H sagde ...

Margot: it is a ´must´ as part of a crime curriculum, but all the intrigues of the second part were a bit far out.

Tracy: I am sure you are right - this one must certainly aim at male readers ;)

Karen Russell sagde ...

I hate when a book starts off so well and then fizzles out, but I guess it's more excusable in a vintage mystery!

Xavier sagde ...

Very interesting. The premise is quite unusual for the period, certainly a far cry from contemporary American, British or French works. Have you read other books by this author? Wasn't a prize named in his honour?

Clarissa Draper sagde ...

What a cool vintage novel. It's too bad they didn't translate it into english.

Bev Hankins sagde ...

Great entry for the challenge! It's a shame it didn't quite follow through in the second half. So many times when detectives are compared to other popular detectives they don't quite match up as promised.

Kelly sagde ...

It sounds interesting, but I found it a little odd that they would drain the lake based on that amount of evidence.

Thanks for including reviews in English even when the book is not available that way.

Dorte H sagde ...

Xavier: yes, there is a Palle Rosenkrantz prize, and the premise of this one is fine, but the latter half is too complex and far out. He wrote several but I have only found this one.

Clarissa: yes it really deserves to be translated.

Bev: I thought of the vintage challenge immediately.

Kelly: the really ironic part is that either the doctor was wrong - or the writer forgot to explain later who that extra baby was :D

Ellen sagde ...

Øh, dukker der flere lig op? Jeg synes absolut ikke, at illustrationen ligner et barnelig...

Det ville dog ikke være første gang, jeg har oplevet at illustrationen ligger så langt fra de skrevne ord som næsten muligt - jeg har selv kommenteret på det her: http://mommer.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/kunstnerisk-frihed/

Dorte H sagde ...

Ellen: ja, der er et lig af en kvinde, men illustrationen er nok mest for husarerne ;)