What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
Dark Pines was originally published about this time last year and just prior to publication, I remember the huge buzz about it from some of my fellow bloggers. Rave reviews began pouring out of the blogosphere and I completely bought into the hype, desperate to figure out why they were all shouting from the rooftops about it. Then I did what I so often do – purchased the book and let it sit on my shelves for months, gathering dust. Well, thank goodness for the second book in the series, Red Snow, which has just been released from Point Blank, Oneworld Publications because I was invited to be on the blog tour for it (check out my post tomorrow!) and it gave me the kick up the butt that I sorely needed to read the first in the series. I’m a bit of a stickler for reading things in order, which you might know if you’re a regular reader but I’m really glad I did with this series. I’ll talk about that a bit more in my review for Red Snow but for now, if I could choose three words to describe Dark Pines? Atmospheric, intricate and chilling – and that’s the story I’m talking about, not just our freezing, Swedish wintry setting!
Will Dean, author of the Tuva Moodyson Mystery series which begins with Dark Pines.
The author, Will Dean, is actually British by birth but now lives in rural Sweden in the midst of a huge forest within a house that he built himself. This gives him the perfect licence to become a giant within the field of Scandinavian crime fiction and he does an excellent job, fitting admirably within that tight little niche. As a Swedish resident, he has obviously put the work in when creating a cast of Swedish characters in a small town with all the tiny quirks and oddities that come with living in such a remote location. It feels like he has drawn heavily and been inspired by his own experience and expertly describes the isolating quality of such a difficult place to live in, especially when you throw in the inclement weather, dangerous animals and indeed for the world of Dark Pines…..dangerous people.
A Swedish forest in winter – perhaps similar to Utgard forest in Dark Pines?
Dark Pines boasts some absolutely terrific characterisation – authentic characters that jump off the page and stay with you long after you finish the novel. I was particularly impressed with our lead female protagonist, journalist Tuva Moodyson who has been deaf since a young age and requires hearing aids but her slight disability does not affect in any way her ability to do her job or impacts the way she interacts with other characters in the story. She encounters prejudice, misunderstanding and plain ignorance along the way but I adored the way she didn’t let it defeat her and counteracted the minority of doubters with intelligent and inoffensive remarks of her own. It was wonderful to see Will Dean bringing the outsiders like Tuva and her friend Tammy, who runs a Thai food van and giving them the starring roles and kick-ass personalities that they deserve in an otherwise homogeneously white Swedish town.
As I may have already alluded to, the setting of this novel was superb. I read it recently on a short break away in a cottage and it was the ideal time to enjoy it as the temperature was freezing outside and Mr B and I had a roaring fire to curl up by. On every page I read of Dark Pines, I could feel the snow, the ice, the wind and more specifically, the quiet, secluded tension of it all. In fact, the solitary nature of our setting combined with a dark and eerie forest, the potential that you could always get lost just added to the thrill of the narrative without even mentioning that there’s a killer out there with a shotgun that may be replicating heinous murders of the past and removing the eyeballs of the dead!
As the first novel in a series with such a fantastic and inspirational female lead, there wasn’t much not to like about Dark Pines. My only slight disappointment was that I had figured out who the murderer was fairly early on. I do like to be surprised in novels like this so I was hoping that I was wrong but unfortunately, I was right. However, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story in general, particularly with such a strong cast and setting and it did make me eagerly anticipate the next outing for Tuva Moodyson.
Visit my blog tomorrow for my review of Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mystery #2) as part of the blog tour!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):