Catharina Ingelman Sundberg


Catharina Ingleman Sundberg

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules

Forum, Sweden – original publisher. Sold to: Brazil – Editora Gutenberg, Denmark – People’s Press, Estonia – Täpänev, Finland – Schildts & Söderström, France – Fleuve de Noir, Germany – Kruger Verlag, Iceland – Bjartur, Italy – Newton Compton, The Netherlands – Meulenhoff, Norway – Silke, Spain – Random House Mondadori. And Svt (Swedish television) has bought the rights to produce a television series.

 A small revolution may be called for, Martha and her friends agree when new management starts cutting down on service in their senior citizens' Service Home. The group are choir-singing mates who decided to live together in old age; but life in their chosen home, The Diamond, turns out to be nothing like what they expected. They all used to be cheerful, spirited people with a great zest for life, but now they're drooping. Bad food, boredom and ever more cutbacks are changing their existence. Why, convicts have a better life in prison!  When even Christmas decorations are hit by the management's cutbacks, ex-gym teacher Martha, 79, has had enough. Aided and abetted by her good friend Krupp, an inventor known as the Genius, she goes subversive. Why not commit a crime and make sure they're sent to prison? Preferably a financial felony, a small coup of some kind; the loot to be given away to the poor and the elderly. If Robin Hood could do it, then surely so can they...!  The pair enlist retired bank-clerk Anna-Greta, so much the old lady that all other old ladies fade to nothing beside her; frivolous milliner Christina, who quotes poetry at the drop of a hat; and ladies' man Bert 'the Rake' Engstrom, an ex-gardener who conducts shady herb-growing experiments on his balcony.  Martha appropriates the Home's master key and starts going out shopping for fruit, veg and other healthy stuff. Then, she persuades her friends to work out, since a successful life of crime requires both strength and stamina. One evening in March, preparations are complete. Hi-tech walking-frames at the ready, the gang sets off for Stockholm's elegant Grand Hotel, intending to rob its well-heeled guests.  But being a rookie robber is not easy, however enthusiastically you approach your task. The gang raids the hotel safe, only to discover that its contents aren't valuable enough to render them prison sentences. Not good enough. They must commit the Perfect Crime.  Equipped with bolt cutters och rollators, they steal one Renoir and one Monet painting from the National Museum of Art next door to the hotel; police lay on a manhunt all over the country but find no trace of the thieves. On the balcony of an opulent suite at the Grand Hotel, the giggling perpetrators toast their success in champagne while watching the police cordons and general commotion in the street below.  Having acquired a taste for crime, our friends continue to enjoy the luxury of the Grand Hotel while penning ransom notes and hiding money. One day, however, they discover that the works of art have vanished, and Martha realises they need help from the police to get the paintings back. All the gang members are afraid of having to go back to the Service Home. Much better to turn themselves in and go to prison of their own free will.  And so they do; but life inside is not quite as easy as our OAPs imagined it. They encounter rigid hierarchies, a menacing Yugomafia, and some real villains who'd love to get their hands on those lost paintings. As if that wasn't bad enough, the mafia then discover the creative talent of the Genius and wish to involve him in their business. It all gets to be at bit much. What's more, all of the gang have got used to the good life. They want to get back to the lap of luxury and still be able to distribute largesse among worthy causes like the arts, better care for the elderly, and more.  So as soon as they've done their time, the Gerry Gang decides to continue down the primrose path. They are going to commit the ultimate crime: steal the already stolen riches of the Yugomafia. But the Gerry Gang's brush with the underworld doesn't quite proceed according to plan, and soon they have both the law and the lawless at their heels...