Bill Bergson Lives Dangerously (Masterdetektiven Blomqvist Lever Farligt, 1951), translated by Herbert Antoine, is the second book in the Bill Bergson trilogy. It was the final Bill Bergson book I read and a bittersweet experience for me, because I really enjoyed this series.
Again, Bill and his best friends Anders and Eva-Lotta have grand adventures and get caught up in a mystery. This book deals with a murder in a way that most children’s books wouldn’t, but Lindgren handles it well. Since these books are aimed at an older reader than most of her writing, I think even today’s children could handle the scene of the murder without too much fuss. The children process the event in very realistic and caring ways.
Eva-Lotta is one of the strongest females that Lindgren created, and the banter between the trio is flawless. I found myself wishing there were another handful of Bergson books just so I could spend more time with these three.
My favorite of Bill’s thoughts: And a good thing too, that the summer vacation was so long. About the cleverest invention ever, Bill considered. Come to think of it, it was strange that grown-ups had hit upon the idea. Actually to let you roam idly in the sunshine for two and a half months without having the bother your head a bit about the Thirty Years’ War and the rest of it!
Bill Bergson, of all of Astrid’s characters, is one that held absolutely no draw for me. Nevertheless, I ordered it through inter-library loan and started reading it last night before bed. I was done with it early this morning. Now, to be fair, it’s only a couple hundred pages long, but my point is: Bill Bergson’s not bad at all.
The original Swedish book is called Mästerdetektiven Blomkvist and was published in 1952. The translation I read is by Herbert Antoine. There is a picture by Louis S. Glanzman. This is the least-illustrated Lindgren I’ve ever seen, but it does not need more.
Bill Bergson’s charm is in his ordinary-ness. He’s just a normal boy who, like most children, has a dream about what he wants to be. He lives in his head, often narrating his successes to himself, but is aware that he is a pretty normal kid. His best friends, Anders and Eva-Lotta, make great sidekicks. I appreciate how Eva-Lotta is treated as an equal who can hold her own. The trio reminds me just slightly of Harry Potter and his friends. Given how much time has passed between publication and today, I’m amazed at how well Bill’s story has aged.
In fact, my only issue with this book is the fact that Bill Bergson’s name, Kalle Blomkvist, was changed in the English version. Kalle is a much more suitable name and there’s no reason to have changed his last name so dramatically. For fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, the main characters of that series reflect the characters of the (Swedish version of the) Bill Bergson series. More information on these interesting connections can be found on the Bill Bergson Wikipedia page.
One of many favorite scenes: Anders and Bill and Eva-Lotta stared at him. Did he really mean to suggest that a grown-up person should take part in their fights? And spoil all the fun!