By Will Dean
Publication Date : January 4, 2018
Synopsis From Publisher:
An isolated Swedish town. A deaf reporter terrified of nature. A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest. A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.
It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.
On a recent trip to Oregon, I noticed the trees lining either side of the highway. Autumn is my favorite season, so I always make it a point to look at the leaves with their changing colors announcing the coming of winter. However, this time I noticed more than just the beauty of the trees. I imagined myself being surrounded by these trees on all sides- the place I worked, shopped, and lived being surrounded by a tall, ever-present, and towering forest. This trip allowed me to briefly step into the shoes of Dark Pines main character, Tuva Moodyson.
Tuva Moodyson is in her late twenties and feels trapped in Garvik, Sweden. Garvik is small rural seasonal hunting town surrounded by the Utgard forest. When her mother became ill Tuva moved from London to be closer to her mother. Tuva is working at the local newspaper and waiting for a big story to propel her career. When a person is found dead in the forest and the circumstances resemble 3 unsolved cases from the 1990’s, Tuva is sure the case is her opportunity to make a name for herself and will earn her a one-way ticket out of Garvik.
Dean’s writing easily enabled me to imagine life in this town. He paints a picture of isolation and loneliness. With the addition of a killer on the loose, the creepiness of the town is magnified. I have read many books about a killer on the loose in a Scandinavian city, but the setting in a small town somehow made the story even more immersive and scary.
Tuva Moodyson is the most original and interesting character I have come across in some time. The pace of the book was rather slow until I got about 150 pages or so in. Tuva is the reason I wanted to keep reading. Her dedication and tenacity is what made the book so compelling. She is resourceful as well. While she hates to be shown any pity for her hearing impairment, she uses her impairment as a tool when it is to her advantage. Tuva is brave but she has her fears as well, she is terrified of the Utgard forest. She is also very lonely. I enjoyed the tough side of Tuva but I also enjoyed her vulnerable side as well. The central mystery is well written but for me Tuva was the main attraction. I had to know what happened to her, I was not really interested in crime at the core of the novel.
I find it very interesting that no matter what part of the world you live in, when you hear someone describe a place as a “small town” two things are almost always included in the description- boring and nosy people. Garvik is not an exception to that rule. Tuva points out that everyone in Garvik shops at the same stores, which why everyone “smells, eats, and looks roughly the same.” She too shops at these stores but Tuva has not managed to fit in. In Garvik, Tuva is an unwelcome outsider. When her articles about the murder appear in the paper, many Garvik residents are unhappy with the way their town is being portrayed. They are also concerned because unsolved murders are bad for a tourist town. The anger of the town’s residents serves to further isolate Tuva, but she does not let this deter her. In fact it is what drives her to solve the case and report the truth.
I cannot remember the last time I read a book and while going about my life, being quickly transported into the world of the main character of my current read. There are still some unanswered questions about Tuva’s life, I am hoping Dark Pines is book one in a series. Dark Pines is a dark, murky and atmospheric novel perfect for any fan of Nordic Noir.
**Thanks to Netgalley and OneWorld Publications for my review copy**
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 ½ out of 5 Stars