Review: The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules

Tuesday Apr 29 2014
by Jack

Whodunit? has a substantial number of customers who qualify as senior citizens, and we suspect that seniors constitute a fair percentage of the overall audience for crime fiction. Nevertheless, older folk do not often feature – at least as protagonists -- in the books that we have on display in the store. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules, by the Swedish author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg, is thus a welcome addition to our shelves. Its publisher touts the book as a humourous and even hilarious farce, although as we well know, readers should have good reason for being suspicious of the hype of publishers. In this case, suspicion would be well-founded. The subject of the book is by far too serious to be considered as terribly funny, and one suspects that the author intended its satirical superficiality to disguise a highly political ultimate purpose. For The Little Old Lady is at heart a novel about the indignities which are perpetuated upon the elderly. Its main characters, residents of a Swedish nursing home, are being badly abused by the proprietors of the establishment in which they are housed. They are being ill-fed and badly looked after. To prevent their complaining of their ill treatment or otherwise causing any trouble, they are being heavily sedated. The book explicitly asks questions like: would these seniors be any worse off in gaol than they are any present? Is the risk of prison by robbing a bank, for example, worthwhile taking for folk as badly exploited as are our gang of seniors? The answer is a resounding “no,” and the book is well worth reading as a not-very subtle critique of society’s treatment of the aged. Do expect to be angered as well as amused.

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