review, Sweden, Translated

Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

echoes deadEchoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin, translated by Marlaine Delargy

Öland Quartet book 1

Delta, 2008

Originally published as Skumtimmen, 2007

It’s quite early in the year, but it’s obvious to me that Echoes from the Dead is going to be one of my favorites reads of the year. It’s an enchanting story, it has very vivid characters, and it weaves the past storyline with the present extremely well.

The book begins with the unsolved disappearance of five-year-old Jens Davidsson years before: he escaped from his grandparents’ back garden and encountered an old man calling himself Nils Kant. Nils Kant’s story, beginning with his childhood and his crimes, takes up the other half of the book. Jens’s depressed mother Julia returns to  Öland, the vacationer’s island in the Baltic Sea, when her father Gerlof says there have been developments in the case. The story alternates between the present day missing persons investigation- unofficially carried out by Gerlof and his daughter Julia–and the story of Nils Kant, whose story remains mysterious as well. It takes quite a bit of skill to have two story lines keeping me guessing.

Theorin is so good at capturing the slightly fantastical story, reflecting Gerlof’s love of scary stories told at twilight since he was a boy. The tone works so well and Theorin earned so much goodwill in my eyes that one little bit of action at the end of the book didn’t bother me if it had been in another story. Julia, Gerlof, and even Nils Kant are nuanced characters who I cared about immensely, and that doesn’t happen regularly.

Highly recommended.

Other glowing reviews appear in Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog, EuroCrime  Reviewing the Evidence, and Reactions to Reading.

I bought my copy of the book.

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5 thoughts on “Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin”

  1. Oh, I’m so glad you liked this one, Rebecca! I love the character of Gerlof Davidsson, and the story itself – the mystery – is really well done I think. So’s the setting. I hope you’ll like the rest of the novels in this quartet too.

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