Source: ARC copy via Anne Cater – Random Things Blog Tours. Also the publisher via NetGalley
I loved Dark Pines and the character of Tuva Moodyson. It was one of my outstanding books of the year last year. I was delighted that Will Dean has written another book with the same character and she’s still living in the rural Swedish small town of Gavrik.
Some of the residents of Gavrik are reminiscent of the weirdly wonderful characters of Twin Peaks, a series popular back in the early 90’s where some of the characters were slightly off key and strange events frequently happened there.
As in Dark Pines, the previous book in the series, the main protagonist is Tuva, the Stockholm born, deaf newspaper reporter from the local town newspaper the Gavrik Posten. It’s February in Sweden, the temperatures at that time of year can reach several degrees below freezing. The roads are treacherous. The characters in the book are constantly adding layers of clothes for going outside, then having to peel them off again once inside heated buildings.
Tuva had just rescued the janitor of the local liquorice Grimberg factory from almost certain death from hypothermia when she’d found him in his car in a ditch, which oddly didn’t seem to faze him at all. Dropping him off at his place of work, Tuva witnesses the suicide of the liquorice Grimberg factory boss and owner when he jumps from one of the factory chimneys to his death. The factory is directly opposite the newspaper office and the main employer in the town.
The suicide of Gustav Grimberg appears to be the catalyst that started a whole series of dramatic events including mysterious ‘accidents’, a murder and they all happened in and around the confines of the liquorice factory.
Tuva has been offered a better job in Malmö, a larger town as a journalist and has accepted the position but first has to work her notice in the Posten.
In this book, as in Dark Pines, we meet up again with the sinister offal loving, hirsute, reclusive writer David Holmqvist who had apparently been approached to write a book about the Grimberg family and he offers to give Tuva a share in his commission for the book because he realises that his approach and personality make him repulsive to the female members of the Grimberg family. He needs Tuva to interview them for glimpses of their lives and to find out more about their fascinating but often tragic family history.
The weird taxi driver Viggo Svennson with his unholy crush and lustful designs on Tuva and who’d kept her captive in his car in the previous book is still around and getting progressively weirder.
The two eccentric, weirdly fascinating, socially isolated, wooden troll making sisters are still living up in the forest and Tuva is forced to become better acquainted with them when she’s stranded in the forest when snow and ice make the road back into town impassable. I love these two and the depiction of their individual characters but equally they scare the hell out of me!
With the Grimberg family themselves we’re introduced to three more interesting characters to add to the total of weird and wonderful Gavrik residents and the plot well and truly thickens as they say. Tuva feels the danger now stalking the small town and fears for those she loves. Her closest friend Tammy, the mobile restaurant owner who serves up Thai culinary delights on a takeaway basis and Tuva’s new love interest Noora, the police officer.
With the author conjuring up the atmosphere and background of the story in his usual gripping style, I read this feeling distinctly chilly and with a constant fear of what will happen to Tuva, a character I’ve grown to love from the first book. My heart was in my mouth when she had to give up her solid, safe 4 x 4 for a heap of junk that would hardly keep her safe in the way below freezing treacherous conditions in and around Utgard forest.
I loved the interesting characters we first met in Dark Pines, Lena, Tuva’s newspaper boss and employer, her good friend Tammy and also loved the new characters of Cici, the Grimberg grandmother who lived in the attic of the factory and Karin, the goth daughter with her ironically misnamed Cabinet Of Life, full of instruments of death. Tuva, as she researched the Grimberg family starts to admire and become fond of those two characters. Recently bereaved by the loss of her mother, she’s drawn into their lives and becomes closer to them. Her off duty episodes of heavy drinking to numb her painful emotions seem to be increasing in this book.
A fascinating read that could be read as a stand alone, except for the odd reference to ‘The Medusa Murders’ from the first book.
I adored this book and missed the characters when I’d finished it. Had a massive book hangover and found it hard to become interested in any other book.
About The Author
Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes. He is the author of Dark Pines.
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