Saturday, 6 September 2008


My review of Johan Theorin's novel Echoes From The Dead has been posted on the Crime Time website...I've linked to it here.

As I explain there, the book is set on Oland (spelled with an umlaut over the O, and meaning 'island land') where I still have family, and where I took my then two-year son to meet his relatives a couple of summers ago. Interestingly, part of that trip included a visit to examine the Henning Mankell industry in Ystad, and you could argue that this excellent novel would never have been translated into English were it not for Mankells' success.

What was amazing to me back on Oland that time was the sense that my son belonged in that landscape, or at least fit into it, and the comfort I felt simply moving around with him in it. My lovely great-aunt Stina thought he looked just like my father, and though he's only a quarter Swedish, you wouldn't have argued. I was happy she'd got to meet him, not long before she died.

I hadn't often been there before in summer, when it is lovely, but usually in winter or thereabouts, when the 'alvar', the inland steppe or plain, is bleak and deserted, the way Theorin uses it to create an atmospheric setting for his slow-building suspense, a story of history and loss.
The theme is the search for a long-missing child, and just thinking about that summer made the book all that much more real to me...the Oland I know may never seem quite the same. But I recommend the book, and Oland, highly. And an update on the title's translation, I was wrong in my review, because 'Skumtimmen' translates in Oland to 'the dusk (or twilight --skymning) which case that title's probably already taken.

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