The Darkest Room, by Johan Theorin
Johan Theorin was born in 1963 in Gothenburg. Like Stieg Larsson, he is a journalist and author. In 2009 he won the Glass Key award for The Darkest Room, and in 2010 he won the CWA International Dagger for the same book.
His debut book was Echoes From the Dead (Skumtimmen). This book has been sold to 13 countries. In Sweden, Theorin is already being viewed as a new Stieg Larsson.
Echoes of the Dead is the first of a series of four books by Johan Theorin. The Darkest Room is the second. The third, A Place of Blood (Blodleie), is scheduled in 2011. The UK title isThe Quarry (available at Amazon UK).
Johan Theorin has so far only written two books. Both are excellent. As a result, he is a bestseller in his native Sweden (in competition with Stieg Larsson, Camilla Lackberg, Liza Marklund and Henning Mankell). The first novel, Echoes from the Dead, has been well received internationally. This novel, The Darkest Room (Nattfåk - meaning Night Fog), the second in a planned series of four, is in my opinion even better. It seems others think the same - Johan Theorin won the CWA International Dagger award 2010 for this book! Like his first novel, this too is an intelligent book somewhere in between a crime fiction book and a ghost story.
A couple from Stockholm, Kathrine and Joachim, with their two children – Gabriel and Livia – has purchased an old manor house on Eel Point on the Swedish island of Öland. It has been empty for a long time – apart from the spirits of the dead, that is - and the houses have been neglected, but they want to renovate it and move in. The house has a strange history; it was built on timber from a ship that sunk in 1846. It is rumored to be haunted.
Strange things are still going on in the house. Before long, Katrine is found, drowned, close to the house. It looks like an accident, but the young policewoman Tilda Davidsson is not convinced that it was an accident. There are many strange things happening, and many houses are visited by thieves during the night.
Tilda Davidsson, who recently started working with the Marnäs police, is the grandchild of old Erlof’s brother (from Echoes of the Dead), and is interested in the history of Oland. She begins to investigate the accident, while also tracking down a gang denuding the uninhabited summer residences of antiques. More and more it becomes clear that somehow, for some reason, the gravitational center of the many odd things that seem to be happening is Eel Point.
The Darkest Room is very well written, full of mysteries, and told in a style that evokes a feeling that there is something mystical, perhaps super-natural, going on. The plot is rich and has lots of neat features, and Johan Theorin very skillfully shows his cards one at a time in order to gradually build more and more suspense. As well, this is a book which displays a deep understanding of human vulnerability and grief. Another good Swedish mystery book, highly recommended!
Echoes From the Dead, by Johan Theorin
In the beginning were Sjöwall & Wahlöö. Then there was Henning Mankell and Hakan Nesser. Recently came Stieg Larsson. Now there is Johan Theorin. He is viewed by many in Sweden as the next in the line of the greatest Swedish crime authors.
In Echoes From the Dead, A six year old boy, Jens, disappears on Öland. His family, the police and volunteers look for him for weeks. But he is gone, without a trace, and never found.
More than 20 years later, now living on the Swedish mainland, his mother Julia recieves an unexpected phone call from her father, Gerlof Davidsson, a retired sea captain who still lives on the island. He has received a package with a child's shoe in the mail. He thinks it belongs to Jens.
Reluctantly Julia returns to Öland. She tries to find out more. And now she is told the story about Nils Kant, a man who once scared people on the island. His great joy was the pain of others. Even though he has been dead since WWII, some still claim to have seen him recently.
The story of Nils Kant starts during the summer of 1936, when Nils is ten years old. Nils is the oldest of two brothers, and he has an inflated self-image which makes him unpredictable and dangerous.
Echoes From the Dead is a chilling psychological thriller, and tells a story where the past extends its shadows into the present. The action in the books moves from the current back into the past, to the Second World War and beyond, and from the barren city of Öland to the ports of the Caribbean.
The book is inspired by a real story which took place in Bohuslän in Sweden in the mid 1980s.
Echoes From the Dead is a tale of love, loss and sorrow. Most of all, it is a gripping, engaging and terrifying study of true evil. Echoes From the Dead is an impressive, fast paced and exciting debut book. It is definitely one of the best crime books I have read after reading Stieg Larsson's first book. I do not understand how the Swedes are able to produce crime writers like this, but I am deeply impressed.
This is a masterpiece of a crime novel. The characterizations are strong, and Johan Theorin makes the characters come alive. And the book masterfully expresses strong emotions. It is also very well written, at times almost lyrical. Echoes From the Dead is a new bestseller from Sweden!