Johan Theorin’s ECHOES FROM THE DEAD is Swedish noir that builds its story on events from 1936 to the 1940′s to 1972 to 1992, periods connected by suspected murders and the memories of the residents of a remote area of Sweden, the island of Oland. On a very foggy morning in September 1972, 6 year-old Jens Davidsson walks out of his home and disappears without a trace. Twenty years later, his mother, Julia, depressed and overwhelmed by the disappearance, receives a phone call from her father, still a resident of Oland. After fleeing to Stockholm so many years before, Julia has had little contact with her father, Gerlof, but now he is asking her to come back, to help him renew the search for Jens. For Julia, Orland is the source of her desperation and her unhappiness but when Gerlof tells her that he has received a package containing one sandal, the same sandal Jens had been wearing when he disappeared, Julia is reluctantly pulled back to the island. The book alternates Julia and Gerlof’s search for Jens with the story of the drowning of Alex Kant in 1934 and the murders of people during the Nazi occupation of Sweden. Orland has its own myth, the island’s own figure of fear, Nils Kant, the older brother of Alex. Did Nils stand-by and watch Alex drown? Did Nils kill the German soldiers in the 1940′s? Was Nils Kant responsible for the deaths of some of the residents of Oland? What role did he play in the disappearance of Jens? How could he have played any role? Nils Kant died 40 years ago so who is the dark figure people see wandering the island at night? Back in her childhood home, Julia observes that, “Within the sunlight there was a sense of sorrow that not everything was as beautiful as it seemed to be….” (ECHOES FROM THE DEAD, p. 74). There is a sense of sorrow that permeates this story; a community has lived for 60 years under a cloud that formed with the death of one child and a family is destroyed by the disappearance of another. ECHOES FROM THE DEAD is not light reading but it is a compelling story of damage wrought by loss, fear, and suspicion. Johan Theorin is another master in the circle of Swedish masters of the genre.
Welcome to MURDER BY TYPE, a place to discuss mysteries and authors and the things that draw us to our favorite books. Is it location? Is it the type of protagonist? I am drawn to police procedurals and books with private or amateur investigators. Unfamiliar locations carry the plus of teaching about cultures and customs. Favorite authors include Leighton Gage, Timothy Hallinan, Cara Black, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Michael Stanley, Dan Waddell, Donna Leon, Libby Fischer Hellman, Martha Grimes, Kathy Reichs and the list goes on and on.
- Beth C.
Tagsart black blogs botswana brad parks brazil carter ross chicago china drugs dublin england finland france gage greece guest post hallinan iceland ireland italy james thompson jeffrey siger kari vaara katrina kidnapping larsson leighton gage london los angeles maine colonial murder norway nyc organized crime paris police procedural reviews scotland spain suicide sweden thailand Tim Hallinan World War II