The Strange Case of Thomas Quick | Dan Josefsson

THE STRANGE CASE OF THOMAS QUICK – THE SERIAL KILLER AND THE PSYCHOANALYST WHO CREATED HIM from Dan Josefsson (translated by Anna Paterson) is not only the longest book title of 2015 but is a criminal book you won’t be able to put down, think of it as a book version of a SERIAL podcast i.e. – FREAKINGLY ENGROSSING. It is a true story looking at Sture Bergwall (pictured below) aka Thomas Quick, allegedly one of the largest convicted serial killers in history possibly responsible for over thirty Swedish deaths. He confessed and was convicted and placed in an institution, years later he recanted his confession and was released. It is deemed one of the largest miscarriages of justice in Swedish history. I need to read this one myself! Kernel Kate reviews it below and literally could not stop reading it she was so engrossed. It is out now from the wonderful folk at Allen and Unwin Book Publishers, you will have to track this down in good bookstores or online as they have sold out via the A&U website. Enjoy Kate’s thoughts…………..all the best………….JK.

 

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The Strange Case of Thomas Quick | Dan Josefsson | Salty Popcorn Book Review | Sture Bergwall AKA Thomas Quick. Photograph Courtesy of The Guardian with credit to Andy Hall

 

BY KATE DAWES

Dan Josefsson’s THE STRANGE CASE OF THOMAS QUICK – THE SWEDISH SERIAL KILLER AND THE PSYCHOANALYST WHO CREATED HIM is truly one of the strangest and most fascinating stories to have emerged from Sweden or anywhere in recent years and as you might have guessed from the self explanatory title concerns getting to the bottom of one of Sweden’s most highly publicised serial killer cases.

Starting in 1997, mid way through the investigation into the death of a child at the hands of serial killer Thomas Quick, we are quickly drawn into a seriously bizarre and engrossing true crime story. The Quick we meet early on is damaged, heavily medicated, erratic and incoherent – in short the image we get of him in this introduction is that he is without a doubt the type of person who makes a believable serial killer despite the fact that the trip to the woods to find hidden body parts turns up nothing. Quick was jailed in 1991 as a drug addict and petty criminal with some of his past offences related to children and while in custody eventually confessed to brutally killing thirty people. His confessions came fairly regularly over a series of years, each one being revealed to his doctors and the authorities as he remembered them until one day they just stopped. Thomas Quick was tired.

 

The Strange Case of Thomas Quick Book Cover Image
The Strange Case of Thomas Quick | Dan Josefsson | Salty Popcorn Book Review | Book Cover Image

 

Where Quick’s story takes a really bizarre turn though is what happens next. Quick’s abrupt stop happened to coincide with his changing therapists, coming off his heavy prescribed drug dosage and shortly thereafter going back to his given name Sture Bergwall. By 2008 all the murder convictions against him had been overturned and it was publicly acknowledged Bergwall in fact had nothing to do with the deaths or disappearances of those with whose murders he had been charged. So how did he come to be convicted in multiple jurisdictions after being tried by several different prosecutors? As Josefsson and those he worked with soon uncovered it was down to a psychoanalyst, her proteges who treated Quick under her supervision and teaching and their belief in Quick’s ‘recovered memories’ of childhood abuse and the murders they lead to all of which have proved false.

Now before you think I’ve given the whole twist away remember this is one of the most high profile criminal cases in Swedish history, it would have been even before all the charges were withdrawn due to Quick becoming Sweden’s most prolific known serial killer in history and all this is revealed in the first few chapters of the book. For some reason the Swedish crime news didn’t seem to make it to me in Australia so hearing this case for the first time set out as Josefsson has in THE STRANGE CASE OF THOMAS QUICK makes it sound so obvious. Of course the drug addict who suddenly starts remembering murders he committed in his 20’s and 30’s which he just blocked out until now isn’t the real deal. Obviously the fact that he and his siblings were all horrifically abused and none of them remember it because they’ve suppressed the memories sounds a bit odd. So what we’re left with as readers is really two stories which interact. The first is who were these psychoanalysts and in particular Margit Norell, their leader who created all these unbelievable assertions which somehow ended up as fact in a court of law. The second is who really is Quick / Bergwall and how did he become this damaged person who made such a believable monster.

 

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The Strange Case of Thomas Quick | Dan Josefsson | Salty Popcorn Book Review | Author Image with thanks to Aftonbladet and credit to Krister Hansson

 

Josefsson, rather than try to answer these questions himself, presents us with an incredibly well researched volume even if his research methods were occasionally a little devious approaching Margit Norell’s former inner circle with the premise of writing a book on the history of their particular school of psychoanalysis and convincing them to open up as they never have before. On the Quick front however Josefsson has the full cooperation of Quick and some of his family, having picked up where a friend left off due to his unfortunate death, and has extensive access to notes, records and diaries providing us a really interesting look into how things went so far. This approach is fairly balanced considering some of the fact of the case are really unbelievable and despite some of the views expressed in records or interviews defying logic they are presented with a minimum of judgement for us to make up our own minds.

THE STRANGE CASE OF THOMAS QUICK is translated from the original Swedish but any concerns about the translation can be quickly allayed. Translated by the award winning Dr Anna Paterson the prose is engrossing and while I’m no psychologist the complex explanations provided read easily even for a lay person, no easy feat even for someone writing in their own language. In fact the only parts of the book that felt forced or clunky were some of the italicised sections indicating the were originally written in English.

If I had a word of warning about THE STRANGE OF THOMAS QUICK it would be not to start it if you’re short of time, at 461 pages and all of them engrossing you may not get anything done for the rest of the week.

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

Having always loved stories one of Kernel Kate’s most frequent childhood memories was her parents telling her in the early hours that it was way too late to still be reading and to go to sleep, but she would always sneak in the end of the chapter. Her love of stories led to a career in movies as well as remaining an avid reader of everything from novels to academic papers and junk mail. She makes a perfect reading machine fit to the Salty Cob.