- Johan Theorin
Publisher: DoubledayAs the last snow melts on the Swedish island of Öland, Per Morner is preparing for his children’s Easter visit. But his plans are disrupted when he receives a phone call from his estranged father, Jerry, begging for help. Per finds Jerry close to death in his blazing woodland studio. He’s been stabbed, and two dead bodies are later discovered in the burnt-out building. The only suspect, Jerry’s work partner, is confirmed as one of the dead. But why does Jerry insist his colleague is still alive? And why does he think he’s still a threat to his life? When Jerry dies in hospital a few days later, Per becomes determined to find out what really happened. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more danger he finds himself in. And nowhere is more dangerous than the nearby quarry...
First I have to confess that I haven’t read many of the Scandinavian crime writers that seem to be appear on bookshelves – no reason really. This is only the second one I’ve read but I did enjoy the little hints that it was set in a different country. Such things as the celebration of 1st May and the frequent references to crisp bread and fish-roe gave the story some extra colour and made some of the everyday elements seem more exotic.
I have to confess to finding the first two thirds of the book slow going. It sets the scene introducing Per and his family as well as his new neighbours on the island. There were plenty of characters and it took me a while to remember who was who. However, Theorin created a spooky atmosphere on the island with frequent mentions of trolls, elves and changelings and even had me guessing at times how the supernatural played into the events of the past and the present. The quarry was a great setting and made the setting different from the numerous city set crime stories. Per is going through a tough time with his daughter seriously ill and he’s not sure how to deal with that. It makes him a very introverted main character and difficult to relate to. In fact I’m not sure if I really bonded with any of the characters as they were all stoic and reserved.
The final third the story picked up with the mystery element coming to the fore and Per starting to be more pro-active rather than reactive. The plot starts to move more quickly then and finishes in an exciting climax in the Quarry. The slow start spoiled the flow a little for me, but the different from normal setting and atmosphere that is built in the beginning pays off in the end. Worth a read if you fancy a visit to Sweden from the comfort of your armchair, but probably won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Recommended for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo. 6 out of 10.