I am so glad that I don’t need to read the next one. I can, but I don’t have to. I know I’ve come to this late, but I have at long last read Johan Theorin’s debut crime novel Echoes From the Dead, except the one I read was of course called Skumtimmen.
It was good. I agree with all others who have said so, and I sort of enjoyed most of it. Didn’t really ‘enjoy’ the ending, and felt hard done by and upset at the way it went. (Which I will not go into, naturally.) But having investigated what the next one is about, I have no wish whatsoever to read it. It sounds even drearier, and I believe it’s meant to be.
Johan is planning a quartet of books, one for each season. Skumtimmen was autumn and Nattfåk (The Darkest Room) is winter, which will be gloomier. I don’t need that, thank you. Perhaps by the time summer comes round it will be a bundle of laughs, but why disappoint all those who thrive on Swedish gloom?
Set on the beautiful island of Öland it felt very true to the landscape, both now and in the past. I only ever went once, about ten years before the bridge, and I remember a lovely summer holiday and perpetual sunshine. I wouldn’t mind going back, as long as I can avoid the drive through Småland and all the trees. In fact, having developed a recent dislike for high bridges, I’m not sure about the crossing either. (Drove over the Tay Bridge last week, and the two words on my mind were ‘disaster’ and ‘McGonagall’.)
Skumtimmen is about a missing child, and the plot is very cleverly woven from what happens now and what happened before, at various points leading up to the disappearance. The child’s mother is a wreck and drinks too much, and her elderly father feels guilty about his grandson going missing, and tries to work out what happened, over twenty years earlier.
There are a couple of ‘clues’ that turn out not to be clues, but other than that the story is full of references to what will turn out to be relevant, except often not in the way you think.
And one small niggle, which may have been lost in translation for all I know, but does the word ‘dying’ mean that someone dies? I thought it did. Unless we are all considered to be dying, because we all will one day, then I feel the word suggests a fatal end caused by something which hurries the sad event on its way. I’d have been saved some concern if the word had not been used here.
It was dismal enough anyway, so why make it worse?