Island of the Naked Women

Sudden murder and the resulting psychological tension are the hallmarks of Inger Frimansson’s acclaimed thrillers. In Island of the Naked Women, Tobias, an author of mystery novels, must return to the family farm after his father became incapacitated due to a fall from the hayloft. Tobias resents his father’s judgmental attitude, but he finds the allure of his father’s young wife Sabina hard to resist. Meanwhile, Hardy, the hired hand, scoffs at Tobias’ city ways, while encouraging Sabina’s mentally challenged son Adam to turn into an Elvis impersonator; and Ingelize, who runs a nearby riding school, finds Tobias irresistible. The rural life becomes increasingly claustrophobic for Tobias, but before he can return to the city, death strikes a hard blow and chaos ensues.

Translated by Laura A. Wideburg.

Caravel Book




Candidate for my "best of" list for this year

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is a strong candidate for my "best of" list for this year. As well as the satisfying "on the surface" mystery, there is an allegorical aspect to the story, which gives it a haunting quality. The island of the naked women (Shame Island) is where legend has it that, in the olden days, wives from the village who had been unfaithful to their husbands were sent, naked, to fend for themselves. It is presumed they starved. The wives in the story told in the book live in more enlightened times, but is their fate any better than that of their historical counterparts?

Maxine Clarke, England Eurocrime

Island of the Naked Women is the third Inger Frimansson mystery published by Caravel Books in the past three years. The first one, Good Night, My Darling, won ForeWord Magazine’s first prize for Book of the Year in the Translations category.

Publishers Weekly wrote: “offbeat characters and taut, controlled prose make for a gripping read.” Kirkus Reviews wrote that “Frimansson vividly conveys [the protagonist’s] inner torments in a hypnotic psychological study sure to gain her new American readers.” International Noir Fiction had this to say: “The novel is modern in many ways, but also suggests the rural novels of Knut Hamsun and other European writers in the early to mid 20th century. Frimansson's palette has deepened and broadened with Island of the Naked Women, into the depths of the noir tradition.”


From the book:

Tobias tried to catch Sabina’s eye, but she was busy steering the boat, setting its course toward Shame Island. It was the largest island in the lake, but no one lived there, no one had even built a summer cabin there.

“Shame Island, what a hell of a name,” he burst out, mostly to change the subject and make things easier for Sabina. His own voice disgusted him at once. He heard the sound of his old man’s voice in his own, a tone he wanted nothing to do with.

A glimmer of light came into Hardy’s eye.

“Do you have any idea why they call it Shame Island?” Hardy asked.

Tobias didn’t answer.

“They used to leave the women there, the ones that were married and did the deed with other men. They rowed them out there like we bring the animals. And they left the women there as naked as the day God made them. They probably wished then that they really were animals instead, those old whores.”

“Those old whores,” repeated Adam. The nerve under his eye twitched more strongly.

“Cut it out,” said Sabina.

“Well, it’s true. They starved to death out there, that is, if they didn’t drown themselves or freeze to death first.”