Thursday, January 24, 2008

Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

I probably don’t need to mention that Scandinavian authors are popular right now - you might have heard of a certain Girl and her Tattoo. My family is a little obsessed with them - Steig Larsson, Jo Nesbo, Per Petterson (not mysteries, but very good), Henning Mankell, and others. So when both my dad and my brother told me that Theorin is their new favorite Swedish author, I had to give him a try.
Echoes from the Dead is set on a chilly, windswept island off the coast of Sweden. The story follows Julia Davidsson and her father Gerlof as they delve into the twenty-year-old disappearance of Julia’s young son, Jens. It is a quieter book than some mysteries. Julia’s long-held grief over her lost son is very well portrayed. Gerlof is a former ship’s captain in his eighties. The search for new information about Jens is partly a way to escape the care facility where he lives and feel important again. And then there is the shadowy figure of Nils Kant. He is revealed in historical chapters interspersed throughout the story. Nils is legendary on the island, evoked almost as boogieman, and Gerlof thinks he was involved in Jens’s disappearance.
The best part about Echoes from the Dead was that Theorin kept me guessing about what happened to Jens and Nils Kant, and about what might happen to Julia and Gerlof.

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