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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Dark Pines

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is a taut dark, atmospheric crime noir, set in a remote town, Gavrik, in Sweden. Tuva Moodyson is a local reporter, deaf since she was a child, who moved here reluctantly after working in London. She has settled in rural 'shitsville' only because her mother is terminally ill, expected only to live for a year. Two people make life bearable for Tuva, her half-Nigerian editor, Lena, whom she admires and learns a lot from, and Tammy, her best friend and crucial support. Surrounded by forests, G This is a taut dark, atmospheric crime noir, set in a remote town, Gavrik, in Sweden. Tuva Moodyson is a local reporter, deaf since she was a child, who moved here reluctantly after working in London. She has settled in rural 'shitsville' only because her mother is terminally ill, expected only to live for a year. Two people make life bearable for Tuva, her half-Nigerian editor, Lena, whom she admires and learns a lot from, and Tammy, her best friend and crucial support. Surrounded by forests, Gavrik is small, everyone knows one another, with a large number of gun owners and hunters, teeming with insularity and prejudices. Utgard forest is the biggest, a dark eerie and menacing wood of dank pine trees, wet, soggy, rotten, cold, permeated throughout with clouds of mosquitos and other bloodsucking insects with the sounds of gunshots and the native wildlife all around. Tuva is remarkably adept at dealing with her deafness so that she fits in with everyday society and life without any glitches. Back in the 1990s, three middle aged hunters were shot in the torso and had their eyes removed in Utgard forest. Known as the Medusa Murders, they remained unsolved, only now another hunter has been killed with the same macabre MO, Tuva is determined to get her exclusive, a story that will make her name and give her options to move back to a big city national newspaper. Tuva is obsessed with exposing the serial killer as further murders take place amidst the growing tensions and febrile atmosphere in the town. Locals start to become hostile to Tuva's press coverage, feeling that it threatens the economic livelihoods of many and hunting, which culturally defines the region. Tuva makes frequent visits to Mossen, a tiny village close to where the killings have taken place. The residents are eccentric, from the weird and strange sisters that carve trolls, and the loner, David, an odd ghostwriter. Utgard forest terrifies Tuva and turns her into a nervous wreck, and the rural makes her feel like fish out of water. However, she is going to have to go deep into the forest, to face her fears, to uncover a dangerous serial killer. This is a beautifully written crime story that ratchets up the tension and suspense. Will Dean creates a truly compelling character in the deaf Tuva, plagued with unease and guilt over her mother whose personality changed for good when her husband was killed by a bull elk. Her good intentions to spend time with her mother are constantly derailed, despite her need to talk with and connect with her. The pine forests are a character in their own right, menacing, with numerous rotting animal corpses, where a killer roams free. This is an absolutely brilliant and gripping novel which I loved reading. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Oneworld Publications for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    From the blurb one would assume that Dark Pines is a typical Scandinavian thriller - a chilly tale of murder set in a small town, deep in the forests of rural Sweden. The novel however is written by Brit Will Dean. Rather than it just being a copycat pastiche of the many impressive Scandi crime novels out there, it turns out that Dean himself has left the U.K. and now lives in Sweden, so has some real experience to draw upon. The novel features Tuva Moodyson, a journalist, previously working for From the blurb one would assume that Dark Pines is a typical Scandinavian thriller - a chilly tale of murder set in a small town, deep in the forests of rural Sweden. The novel however is written by Brit Will Dean. Rather than it just being a copycat pastiche of the many impressive Scandi crime novels out there, it turns out that Dean himself has left the U.K. and now lives in Sweden, so has some real experience to draw upon. The novel features Tuva Moodyson, a journalist, previously working for the Guardian in London, now living in Gavrik (a fictional town near Gothenburg) and working on the small local newspaper. She made the move to be close to her mother who is spending her last days in a nursing home nearby. Twenty years ago Gavrik became infamous for a series of grisly murders. It seems the murders have started again with the discovery of the mutilated body of a hunter in the forest. Tuva becomes totally involved in the case in the hope that a big story will help her return to top flight journalism, when the time comes. Tuva is virtually deaf (I learnt a lot about hearing aids) very stubborn, a bit lonely and has a phobia of being lost deep in the forest. Oh dear, what could be on its way?! I enjoyed the setting of small town Sweden and the procession of creepy eccentrics lined up as possible culprits. The atmosphere is dark and unsettling and the tension grows steadily with a good, solid ending. An exciting first outing for Tuva Moodyson (book two is already out there) and a series I look forward to following.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Dark Pines is one of those books where I look up from the pages after finishing it, slightly dazed, going Yep THAT is what I am looking for. Beautiful beautiful writing, totally immersive from the very first page with a main protagonist that you just fall in love with and an atmospheric, haunting sense of things that will linger for a long time. Will Dean’s intuitive prose just sends you to Gavrik, a small town, a tight knit community, people just looking for a quiet life, but there is a dangerou Dark Pines is one of those books where I look up from the pages after finishing it, slightly dazed, going Yep THAT is what I am looking for. Beautiful beautiful writing, totally immersive from the very first page with a main protagonist that you just fall in love with and an atmospheric, haunting sense of things that will linger for a long time. Will Dean’s intuitive prose just sends you to Gavrik, a small town, a tight knit community, people just looking for a quiet life, but there is a dangerous underbelly to it all that you just feel throughout the reading. Tuva is truly intriguing, living and working in Gavrik to be close to her unwell Mother, just waiting to escape but somehow so very much a part of it all anyway. Her so called “disability” is just part of her, she works around it with no sense of being different to anyone else and I loved that about her. The scene setting is a huge part of what makes this so very very excellent though. The “Dark Pines” of the title, that brooding, beautifully threatening forest is a character in its own right – making you want to visit and want to hide from it – always in the background, a definable, vivid environment that ingrains itself into the wider story with a truly imaginative intensity. Then you have the quirky, odd and realistic characters that live in and around Gavrik – from the sisters (my favourites!) with their extremely strange creative profession and their lilting way of talking to Tuva herself, everyone you meet in Dark Pines will give you a different emotional response. The mystery element is so so SO well done, I don’t even want to say anything about it, you should just read it and live in it and wait for that downright eerie ending that is elegantly achieved. I loved every moment of this one. Every word. It was just blinking brilliant. This is DEFINITELY one to watch in 2018 and has pretty much guaranteed itself a place in my top ten reads for this year – Dark Pines is a novel to watch and Will Dean is an author to watch. I sense great things ahead. Highly HIGHLY recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Smith

    "Dark Pines" written by Will Dean is the first in the deaf journalist, Tuva Moodyson series set in Sweden and was featured on the Sunday morning tv show 'The Zoe Ball Book Club'. After reading some rave reviews for this book and enjoying a lot of social media time, I was really looking forward to reading it and was hoping and expecting a unique and tense, crime thriller. However, I found the main protagonist Tuva to be boring and the atmospheric setting to be over detailed which therefore came ac "Dark Pines" written by Will Dean is the first in the deaf journalist, Tuva Moodyson series set in Sweden and was featured on the Sunday morning tv show 'The Zoe Ball Book Club'. After reading some rave reviews for this book and enjoying a lot of social media time, I was really looking forward to reading it and was hoping and expecting a unique and tense, crime thriller. However, I found the main protagonist Tuva to be boring and the atmospheric setting to be over detailed which therefore came across as dull. Sadly, overall I found the premise and content desperately lacking. I maybe well be in the minority with this story as it has gone down well with many readers. I DNF before half way through and skipped to the last couple of chapters to find the murderer was exactly who I thought it was and that I hadn't really missed anything. I'm not saying don't read this book, if you enjoy slow, atmospheric, detailed crime books set in Sweden, you may well enjoy it, it just wasn't for me. 2 stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    I was drawn into the story from the first page on. It started with speed and tension which were kept up for most of the time. Although I guessed who the culprit was early on (unlike me), I still wanted to read on and find out how the story developed. Quite a debut!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ova - Excuse My Reading

    I liked this, how could you not like something so atmospheric and that takes you to the wilderness of Sweden forests? Tuva is a deaf journalist, able to hear with a hearing aid, she likes turning it off and disconnecting herself from the world. She lives in northern Sweden which is a tight community- not seemingly welcoming change, or open minds. Detached from her dying mother, she is a lone soul with a will to make the career move to move away from the area. Elk hunt is a big thing in this town c I liked this, how could you not like something so atmospheric and that takes you to the wilderness of Sweden forests? Tuva is a deaf journalist, able to hear with a hearing aid, she likes turning it off and disconnecting herself from the world. She lives in northern Sweden which is a tight community- not seemingly welcoming change, or open minds. Detached from her dying mother, she is a lone soul with a will to make the career move to move away from the area. Elk hunt is a big thing in this town called Gavrik, men usually hunt. Nature and wilderness makes Tuva uncomfortable and she doesn't enjoy it, but when an hunter is found dead in the forest, his eyes taken out, Tuva would have to investigate because this is her chance to write a good story to progress her career. The people in the story and Tuva are beautifully portrayed. I love Sweden, visited 4 times in different regions and this book literally took me there. I guessed the identity of the killer, because I kind of sensed the way Dean wrote about them, building them was a bit more meticulous than the other characters, but overall I really enjoyed this story. If you're looking for a crime novel without any gross, disturbing content, or emotional porn, look no more. I really liked Tuva and will read the second book, Red Snow as well.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    Dark Pines is another overhyped debut of 2018 which proved disappointing lacking in the wow factor for me with its unconvincing attempt at capturing the magic of the Nordic Noir. After an inauspicious start which takes too long for the story to take hold, Will Dean’s insipid deaf protagonist, twenty-six-year-old Tuva Moodyson fails to inspire and is steadfastly behind the curve in journalistic instinct failing to gain any real traction for the majority of the novel. Added to that are pages of re Dark Pines is another overhyped debut of 2018 which proved disappointing lacking in the wow factor for me with its unconvincing attempt at capturing the magic of the Nordic Noir. After an inauspicious start which takes too long for the story to take hold, Will Dean’s insipid deaf protagonist, twenty-six-year-old Tuva Moodyson fails to inspire and is steadfastly behind the curve in journalistic instinct failing to gain any real traction for the majority of the novel. Added to that are pages of repetitive descriptions of travelling back and forth on the same stretch of road which is enclosed by the forest, a perpetrator who is heavily signposted from the get-go and excessive plot twists into the close to make for an often frustrating read. Twists only serve a purpose if they are believable and have a plausible motive to support them and in the case of Dark Pines some unlikely red herrings simply seems to extenuate the story and point the murders a handful of suspects who are fair game from the opening pages. Tuva Moodyson has reluctantly returned to live in her native Sweden where her ailing mother is spending her final days resident in a nursing home and is the grip of a terminal illness. Forced to pursue her career within a drivable commute to her mother, Tuva works at the Gavrik Posten, a community focused weekly publication with a circulation of six-thousand and very little opportunity for the incisive commentary of a creative and dynamic journalist. With the elk hunt season in full swing the eyes of the isolated Swedish town seem firmly focused on the plentiful spoils of the dense Utgard forest until the tight-knit community is shaken by a killer striking in their midst and an incident which gives rises to an increasing fragile silence. With the victim having been mutilated and bearing the hallmarks of a series of three “Medusa Murders” which occurred in the early 1990’s the implications loom large with all of the locals reluctant to vocalise the fear that they could have have been sheltering a serial killer in plain sight for decades, and in a town held together by a web of secrets the atmosphere quickly turns rather sinister. When a second murder occurs that again takes the life of a middle-aged male hunter employed by the pulping mill and having been shot in the torso and had his eyes removed the small town of Gavrik becomes a national media focus. With the two-man police force of Constable Thord Petterson and his superior, Chief Björn Andersson overwhelmed and the town reluctant to part with their secrets Tuva spots an opportunity for a story. With part-time and veteran reporter, Lars, taking over the routine copy, the half-Nigerian editor of the Posten, Lena (“Diana Ross in jeans and a fleece”) gives protagonist Tuva Moodyson free reign to focus on the local implications of the story and how it is affecting their readership. There are a comedy cast of utter oddballs living in the village of Mossen which is located closest to the forest, from a retired army man turned animal rights campaigner and hoarder who lives in a caravan right through to two Norwegian troll carving sisters, a ghostwriter and a very watchful taxi driver. As Tuva introduces herself to an eclectic cast of villagers residents and travels back and forth to investigate she is steadily unnerved by a feeling of being under observation. With an inherent aversion to the sprawling forest and a continual feeling of neglecting her mother Tuva is caught in a fractious cycle of being pulled back by the scent of a decent story and a feeling of guilt for her lack of care for her mother, making her another of a recent raft of whiny female protagonists in crime fiction and somewhat dull. In a town where a machismo attitude and a man’s hunting prowess seems to determine ones place in the pecking order the threat of hunting rights being rescinded brings hostility from the hunting team and in turn leaves Tuva something of an unknown quantity threatening to decimate a town by exposing their rotten core. With Gavrik reliant on its hunting season for its tourist income and the continuing support of its major employers, Tuva is a subject to a groundswell of antipathy and a wall of silence as she is gradually shut out of the investigation and story. Whilst I can’t say that Tuva earned his investigative journalist spurs in Dark Pines I think much of Will Dean’s motive is simply portraying an outsider, who is able to break rank and upset the applecart of the small community where everyone is either closely related or bonded by shared allegiances. This outsider status aligns Tuva with best-friend twenty-two-year-old Tammy who is of Thai parentage but was born in Sweden and has remained in Gavrik running a takeout trailer. Tuva uses Tammy as a sounding board as she investigates the residents of a location they comically dub “Toytown” and uncovers a legacy of sordid goings on and an array of divided loyalties. Although into the denouement Tuva’s deafness has a purpose in the story for much of the novel I was irritated by the constant mentions of turning the hearing aids on, battery failure and so forth which only served to draw attention to her disability. Surely this should all come as second nature to someone who has been deaf from birth and I felt like readers attention was consciously made aware of it, whether in an attempt to elicit sympathy for Tuva, simply prove how brave she is or just to tick the box of making for a unique protagonist. Presumably this is the reason for her unconfirmed lesbianism or bi-sexuality. Not only does Will Dean provide the de rigueur “no signal” in Utgard forest but also the audible warnings for Tuva’s hearing aid batteries failing (yawn) and I do feel that Tuva has the potential to be a one-trick pony and issue fixated character! Although done fairly heavy-handedly, Dean does attempt to illustrate Tuva’s commitment to telling the local story both sensitively but also honestly, driven by the misrepresentation of her father’s death at age fourteen and her mothers swift descent into depression on the back of it. I have no idea why everyone thought that Tuva had a career defining article within her grasp and what she had previously done to warrant her reputation, but on the extent of this name dropping of The Guardian and The New York Times clearly she is hiding this gifted journalist light under a bushel! All in all, Dark Pines felt like a clumsy and amateur attempt at Nordic Noir, laden with the recurring literary devices and motifs which epitomise the genre. The result is pseudo Nordic Noir with an oddly jarring narrative that proves distracting and the very opposite of the crisp and clinical delights of the genre. Dark Pines makes for a repetitive introduction to a lacklustre character who stands out purely on the basis of her disability and a protagonist who I would feel decidedly lukewarm about meeting again in the future. Sadly I didn’t find the novel thrilling and although Dean’s narrative improved I found this story a pale imitation of the chilling Scandi atmosphere and subtle social commentary of the genre. In future I will be sticking to the real thing!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Do you need a new book to add to your TBR, one that has not only a chilly atmosphere but also a chilling plot? I’m assuming you’re nodding your head thinking, yes that’s exactly what I’m looking for, because that’s why you’re here, right?! There is nothing better than a reading a book that matches the current season, a beach read in the summer, a horror novel in the fall or a book like Dark Pines in the winter. It had a fantastic combination of a strong and interesting lead character, a creepy s Do you need a new book to add to your TBR, one that has not only a chilly atmosphere but also a chilling plot? I’m assuming you’re nodding your head thinking, yes that’s exactly what I’m looking for, because that’s why you’re here, right?! There is nothing better than a reading a book that matches the current season, a beach read in the summer, a horror novel in the fall or a book like Dark Pines in the winter. It had a fantastic combination of a strong and interesting lead character, a creepy setting in the dense forests of Sweden and an strange murder case that left me puzzled. Tuva is a journalist which is always a nice change of pace in a crime novel, I like the uniqueness of having someone other than a police officer investigating a case. She was really intriguing, she’s deaf and not your typical lead, she’s not overly brave or tough, in fact she’s actually terrified of the woods and the combination of her fear and not being able to hear made for some great, eerie situations. She’s an outsider in her small town having only been living there for two years and the oddball group of locals don’t know what to make of her. These characters were really great, they were all SO weird and had so many off the wall quirks, you never knew quite what would happen with them next and it made it all the more difficult to figure out whodunnit. This read like a classic murder mystery, a nod to old school style books and I thought the pacing was spot on. The chapters would often end kind of abruptly but oddly enough it worked really well for me. I was totally caught up in this one, it had a quiet ferocity that reminded me of Ragnar Jonasson and fans of his work should definitely give this a try!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lavender

    Well, apparently I am in the minority here. I never found my way into the story. I also never connected to Tuva. To be honest, I did not like her. I found her actions and investigations quite stupid. Yes, there was a dark and disturbing atmosphere. The setting is creepy but the story itself did not work for me. I got bored and almost stopped reading. But I tent to finish books I got from NetGalley, just to give it a proper chance. Also there are a lot of raving reviews so I thought I was just mis Well, apparently I am in the minority here. I never found my way into the story. I also never connected to Tuva. To be honest, I did not like her. I found her actions and investigations quite stupid. Yes, there was a dark and disturbing atmosphere. The setting is creepy but the story itself did not work for me. I got bored and almost stopped reading. But I tent to finish books I got from NetGalley, just to give it a proper chance. Also there are a lot of raving reviews so I thought I was just missing something. But the end was no twist for me, maybe a bit of a surprise but the motive was ridiculous. I also did not like the writing style. It was very slow and full of strange metaphors. For example: “The three-quarter moon makes the woods as grey as the blood you find under a cooked salmon filet”. Hm….I just kept stumbling over such strange sentences. I always feel terrible when I have nothing good to say about a book which was given to me kindly by a publisher. I wanted to like this book so much. Fortunately I am almost the only one who did not like this book. It is probably me. Maybe I get picky or just read too much thrillers over the years. I find it harder and harder to be thrilled by a book these days. I hardly had a 5 star-review last year and I am very disappointed in myself that my first review in 2018 is just a 2 stars. I am very sorry but “Dark Pines” war not my cup of tea. I reveived an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This was a chilling, atmospheric story set in a village and dense forests of rural Sweden. It is gripping and creepy, and there is a sinister feeling connected with its small-town inhabitants. A menacing mood is prevalent and the tension never lets up. I love a story that transports me to an unfamiliar place. The author brilliantly evokes the land, painting vivid word pictures of its dark vast forests of spruce, pine and birch, its damp bogs and marshes, the mud underfoot, the rain, sleet, and This was a chilling, atmospheric story set in a village and dense forests of rural Sweden. It is gripping and creepy, and there is a sinister feeling connected with its small-town inhabitants. A menacing mood is prevalent and the tension never lets up. I love a story that transports me to an unfamiliar place. The author brilliantly evokes the land, painting vivid word pictures of its dark vast forests of spruce, pine and birch, its damp bogs and marshes, the mud underfoot, the rain, sleet, and patches of snow. I felt immersed in its moist, claustrophobic atmosphere. It is probably a place I won’t want to visit anytime soon. Will Dean has created an intriguing heroine, Tuva. He has written sensitively about her deafness, her concern for her sick mother, her relentless pursuit for a story for the local newspaper, and of her terror of the gloomy woodlands. Tuva left a promising career with a big city newspaper, moving to the village to be close to her dying mother. She hates the place, has no affinity for nature, and longs to return to a big city. Approximately twenty years earlier, three hunters were found at different times shot dead in the forest. Their eyes had been extracted. The woodland abounds with elk and other wild game, and also mosquitoes and ticks. It is the beginning of the elk hunting season, and the sounds of rifles echo through the vicinity. Most of the men are avid hunters. Soon, Tuva learns that two men have been discovered shot to death and their eyes had been removed. In her role of reporter for the local paper, she interviews some quirky characters on the outskirts of the village and believes any of them might be suspects. Tuva also wonders if these two murders are connected to the unsolved cases twenty years previously. She meets with some hostility as the locals are concerned that her news articles show the village in an unfavourable light and blame her for scaring hunters away. She has made two female friends in the village which makes her time there less unbearable. The compassionate and relentless Tuva becomes obsessed and dedicated to solving the crimes. This leads her to enter the dreaded forest on her own, desiring to overcome her greatest fear. She finds the forest even more terrifying and dangerous than she anticipated in her wildest imagination. This was compelling, tension-filled plot, and the suspense never let up. I have already downloaded the next book featuring Tuva Moodyson, and can’t wait to encounter her again and her next adventure.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Crime by the Book

    Read my full review here: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2017/1... This is a strong debut thriller with a fantastic atmosphere and a compelling main character! Set in rural Sweden, DARK PINES has a strong sense of place that will appeal to fans of Nordic Noir. I loved Dean's vivid descriptions of the landscape. This book really took off for me around page 100 or so - the beginning was a bit slow/choppy for me, but I wound up really enjoying it! Read my full review here: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2017/1... This is a strong debut thriller with a fantastic atmosphere and a compelling main character! Set in rural Sweden, DARK PINES has a strong sense of place that will appeal to fans of Nordic Noir. I loved Dean's vivid descriptions of the landscape. This book really took off for me around page 100 or so - the beginning was a bit slow/choppy for me, but I wound up really enjoying it!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard

    Part of the 2018 Guardian Not The Booker shortlist for which I am delighted to have been picked as a judge. https://www.theguardian.com/books/boo... This book, together with another Guardian Not The Booker choice - Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin - was one of Val McDermid’s 2018 New Blood picks at the annual Harrogate Crime Writing Festival: a previous pick being Belinda Bauer whose Snap was picked by the Booker judges (including McDermid – a tireless champion of crime fiction and of new crime writer Part of the 2018 Guardian Not The Booker shortlist for which I am delighted to have been picked as a judge. https://www.theguardian.com/books/boo... This book, together with another Guardian Not The Booker choice - Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin - was one of Val McDermid’s 2018 New Blood picks at the annual Harrogate Crime Writing Festival: a previous pick being Belinda Bauer whose Snap was picked by the Booker judges (including McDermid – a tireless champion of crime fiction and of new crime writers) for the Booker longlist itself. Within the first two sentences of this book we are immediately on both familiar and unfamiliar territory within the crime genre. An elk emerges from the overgrown pines and it is monstrous – and, together with the cover and title, we are, we realise, in the familiar genre world of Scandinavian Noir, as well as a first person, present tense narration …… and then I nudge my ponytail and switch on my hearing aids but then we are confronted with a very different narrator. In terms of Scandinavian Noir, this is (pardon my alliteration) Nordic Noir with a nice nuance: a nuance which one can immediately see appealing to a publisher and which lead to this being picked up by Oneworld publications – who, amazingly for an independent publisher, were twice winners of the Booker prize in 2016 and 2017. The twist here being that the author – Will Dean – is not a Scandinavian but an Englishman living in Scandinavia, in fact in a wooden house he has built in a vast elk forest. This has two advantages. Firstly it avoided the need for translation - so not distracting the prolific but still clear overly in demand Wymondham based Don Bartlett from completing the translation of Knausgaard's My Struggle into English. Secondly this enables Dean to give an English perspective on some some quirks of language (he is particularly fond of examining the expression “he has a nice economy”), the menacing countryside captured in the book’s title and the hunting based local society. This outside/English based perspective is given some fictional resonance by having his main protagonist as something of an outsider herself – a Swede who lived in England (as an intern at the Guardian no less) and has had the chance to examine her own country’s cultural assumptions and linguistic quirks, and a natural City dweller and internationalist wary of the countryside and insular society in which she now lives. And our narrator is the unconventional part of this novel – a deaf, bisexual young journalist (Tuva). The author has commented that his first (unpublished and – he implies - unpublishable) novel had a protagonist with a similar background to his own and that, as a reaction, he decided to pick a very different character for the narrator. Rather cleverly, the author confronts the risk of being accused of writing in the voice of a character he cannot possibly know by having one of the characters say to Tuva after a simple observation the latter makes on the former’s relationship: I really hope you don’t mind me saying, but you can’t really know about these things until you’ve been married yourself. Largely I think he has succeeded however in capturing someone else’s voice. Certainly Tuva’s deafness is an important part of the novel – and an interesting one. For example: the sensitivity to sound on the edge of the aural spectrum; the ability to turn off the hearing aid and effectively zone out aurally; the challenges of lip reading; the sensitivity to condescension about speaking skills; and hearing aid battery power as an addition to the 21st century journalists version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Wifi, GPS, mobile signal and mobile battery. Dean has clearly done lots of research here and I think he manages to steer a line between the over-research of The Mars Room and under-research of From a Low and Quiet Sea (to pick two Booker books). Whether the portrayal is accurate I cannot say, but it is certainly one that seems sensitively handled. Further Tuva has additional complexities to her character: her fear of the wild; the loss of her father and the longer lasting repercussions of that, including the impact it has on her victim’s family-sensitive approach to journalism; her ever present guilt over the conflict between her career ambitions and her need to look after her mother – which lead her to uneasy short and long term compromises (including her very move to a small Swedish town) which fail to satisfy either requirement – and some quirks (mainly wine gums and gaming). Another strength of the novel is the intense and almost claustrophobic, picture it paints of the small town of Gavrik - with its hunting season, and close-knit small business community with a web of connections and histories between individuals. I also enjoyed the eccentric but complex cast of characters that inhabit the handful of houses that make up Mossen village: an ex-army single father taxi driver, obsessed with mice and his haunted son; two sisters hand-carving Trolls augmented with animal and body parts; a ghost writer who refuses to fit in with local conventions and is still suspected by many locals of an earlier, unsolved set of related murders; an obsessive animal rights activist; and then the leader of the local hunting group, the most popular man in the town but with his own secrets. And across both are laid a local strip club (and former brothel) and rumours of the activities of a high-stakes poker group – all of which emerge to Tuva and the reader as possible clues to the resolution of the new series of murders that are striking the town – all it seems of family-men hunters and all mutilated for their eyes. And this probably gets to my biggest issue with the book – it was a book I did not want to end, but not (as is sometimes the case) because the book was so enjoyable I wanted to carry on reading it, but simply because I knew that the conventions of the genre would take over and that the story would have to be resolved, probably with some form of rather implausible explanation. And so it proved. Similarly although I enjoyed both the main character and a number of the side characters, I would prefer if the author moved on to something different and allowed the future of characters to remain in my imagination – but inevitably within the genre this is likely to be the first in a series of appearances by Tuva who will presumably stumble across other small town murders in future. One touch I did like though was that the author is conscious of those who might look down on the genre – of the ghostwriter, distrusted by all the village, another character says One time I mentioned the books I enjoy …. and he raised his eyebrows and made a kind of “o” shape with his mouth like they were dumb things to read. He’s a book snob, you know the kind. Well I am probably one of “the kind” – and certainly have struggled with the inclusion of “Snap” on the Booker shortlist, but overall I enjoyed this novel far more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Banks

    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Scandi-thriller with some good characters. I'm not adverse to the occasional bleak Scandinavian murder novel, though in all honesty, I do feel they are becoming a little formulaic. However, this one had enough 'new' elements to keep me reading on. Tuva is a deaf young woman, who has returned to a remote part of Sweden to be nearer to her dying mother. Working for the local paper, she's suddenly pulled into a full-blown I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Scandi-thriller with some good characters. I'm not adverse to the occasional bleak Scandinavian murder novel, though in all honesty, I do feel they are becoming a little formulaic. However, this one had enough 'new' elements to keep me reading on. Tuva is a deaf young woman, who has returned to a remote part of Sweden to be nearer to her dying mother. Working for the local paper, she's suddenly pulled into a full-blown murder case as 'Medusa' (a killer with a penchant for removing people's eyes) re-emerges. There are some genuinely gripping moments and the characters are wonderfully realised (loved the Troll-making ladies)! I also loved that the main character was deaf - nice to see, and added an interesting twist to many of the scenarios, where you'd traditionally rely on sound. And the environment - brilliantly depicted, I could really imagine it. I struggled a little with the first-person present narrative; there was a lot of repetition of sentences starting with 'I', which felt a bit like a long list at times. Likewise, it was slightly formulaic - I'd have loved it to bust out of the expected conventions of this saturated genre a little more. But overall, a good read; definitely for you if you're into bleak murder stories!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    A vast, dark, Swedish forest, a deaf print-journalist and the suspected return of a serial killer from the past -- these are the main ingredients for this fabulous concoction of Scandi Noir from British ex-pat author Will Dean. It's the first in a series that I'm excited to have discovered for myself. Tuva Moodyson left a good life in London to return to Sweden when her mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She's landed in Gavrik, which she disparagingly refers to as Toytown, working for A vast, dark, Swedish forest, a deaf print-journalist and the suspected return of a serial killer from the past -- these are the main ingredients for this fabulous concoction of Scandi Noir from British ex-pat author Will Dean. It's the first in a series that I'm excited to have discovered for myself. Tuva Moodyson left a good life in London to return to Sweden when her mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She's landed in Gavrik, which she disparagingly refers to as Toytown, working for the Gavrik Posten; circulation 6,000. It's not all bad though. After 3 years she's still not sick of the scent of liquorice that pervades the town, courtesy of the liquorice factory, one of it's two main industries. The other positive is her editor, Lena, who is someone she can learn from. Deaf since a childhood illness robbed her of her hearing, Tuva is 100% able. Her hearing aids are a part of her life that is so ingrained she barely even thinks about it (except when it rains), but she does use it to her advantage, for example when she wants to shut out the world and concentrate on her writing. When a body is discovered in nearby Utgard Forest - a local man shot, and with his eyes removed - connections are quickly drawn to the unsolved Medusa Murders of 20 years ago. Tuva is one of the first on scene and finds herself almost in the centre of the investigation. If she can stay ahead of the media pack, this story could make her career and help her to get away from Gavrik once and for all. This book has everything - an intriguing main character, a well-paced mystery, lots of thrills and so many red herrings you just know you are in Scandinavia (boom)!! Tuva is smart, gutsy and exceedingly capable, but she's also an outsider so things don't always run smoothly for her. As the story is written in the first person, it's interesting to be inside Tuva's head as she works out how to handle different situations. When she realises she's getting closer and closer to discovering the truth, she doesn't let anything get in her way. As a reader, I honestly couldn't see where the mystery was leading. I did guess the identity of the murderer, but only by accident as I ran through a list of increasingly unlikely options (by which I mean that I didn't really pick it at all). Maya Lindh's narration was superb - for me, she was Tuva! I was so tempted to roll straight into #2 when I saw it was available at my library, but I made myself practice some restraint. I'll go there soon though, and it will be audio again. Highly recommended for those who like their thrillers with some grit, or for something a bit different.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Victor *I Miss "FREE HUGS"*

    This is a difficult review to leave because I was looking forward to reading this for a long time and when I started, I found things that bothered me from, what seemed like, the get-go. By the 22nd page I think I had read at least three times that electronics that were almost dead and had to be recharged. Yes this bothered me. If you're a regular bloke with a regular job, I get it. If you're a reporter, your phone, Ipad and camera are so crucial to doing your job that they should always be charg This is a difficult review to leave because I was looking forward to reading this for a long time and when I started, I found things that bothered me from, what seemed like, the get-go. By the 22nd page I think I had read at least three times that electronics that were almost dead and had to be recharged. Yes this bothered me. If you're a regular bloke with a regular job, I get it. If you're a reporter, your phone, Ipad and camera are so crucial to doing your job that they should always be charging when not in use. In the small town where Tuva worked, the electronics weren't always in use. We're constantly being reminded that Tuva is deaf. It seemed to me that maybe the author thought that we'd forget and wanted us to remember because it may or may not play a role later on. Tuva is always fidgeting with the dials on her hearing aids, putting them in, taking them out, covering them so they don't get wet. I get it - she's deaf. I have a great-uncle that uses aids and people are always commenting on how he's constantly messing with the volume, so maybe this is a thing and I'm wrong. There was a stupid mistake made - sole purpose... to move the story forward. If the right decision is made, the story stalls. This is straight from my notes. I do not remember what the mistake was, but even if I did I wouldn't say since it would be a spoiler. I didn't find this to be dark enough. This was a regular murder mystery. I didn't sense anything special about this happening in Sweden; it could have occurred in the Pacific Northwest and it would have read the same to me. While I wasn't surprised when the killer was revealed, this 3-star read gets bumped up to 3.5 after the resolution and vindication. It was easy to read but I wasn't really engaged. Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for providing an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Fenton

    I met the author Will Dean in July at Harrogate and was told by everyone to read his book so I immediately downloaded it in July and promptly forgot about it until mid December when I was politely reminded by Liz Barnsley to “read his bloody book now woman, you’ve had it for 6 months”. Dark Pines is more than just a crime thriller, it’s a story full of quirky characters with depth set in an atmospheric and creepy surrounding. With a wonderful main character, Tuva Moodyson, a deaf, bi-sexual report I met the author Will Dean in July at Harrogate and was told by everyone to read his book so I immediately downloaded it in July and promptly forgot about it until mid December when I was politely reminded by Liz Barnsley to “read his bloody book now woman, you’ve had it for 6 months”. Dark Pines is more than just a crime thriller, it’s a story full of quirky characters with depth set in an atmospheric and creepy surrounding. With a wonderful main character, Tuva Moodyson, a deaf, bi-sexual reporter who has found herself relocated from London to Gavrik (Toytown) to be near her dying mother and working on a small local newspaper when a body is discovered deep in the forest in the middle of hunting season with the same signature as a serial killer from the 90’s. Determined to solve the crime herself, Tuva decides to investigate despite hating nature, elks, the forest, the dark, insects and small towns. Dark Pines is my first Nordic Noir and boy did I pop my cherry on a good’un! Atmospheric, creepy, tense, dark, descriptive, gripping and beautifully written.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    EXCRUCIATINGLY boring - Could Not Finish. I refuse to give it any stars. If anyone wants my reasons - I can elaborate.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Noelle

    All reviews can be found on www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk OMFG this is such an amaaaazing book, I am not sure my review will do it justice! But I will give it a go! The reader finds themselves in Sweden facing loss; grief; differences; secrets/lies; discrimination; small-town mentalities; judgement; a search for the truth – all is not what it seems in the isolated Swedish town, that’s for sure!! Can I just say that the description throughout this debut novel was EXQUISITE!! I could just about smell th All reviews can be found on www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk OMFG this is such an amaaaazing book, I am not sure my review will do it justice! But I will give it a go! The reader finds themselves in Sweden facing loss; grief; differences; secrets/lies; discrimination; small-town mentalities; judgement; a search for the truth – all is not what it seems in the isolated Swedish town, that’s for sure!! Can I just say that the description throughout this debut novel was EXQUISITE!! I could just about smell the forest as I drank in the scenery that was so beautifully portrayed in this eery and somewhat haunting setting. Soooo atmospheric. *sigh* – I simply loved it! I also LOVED the story/plot! This was a total page-turner for me as the thrill of the mystery and suspense just grabbed me and would not let me go until I finished! I love how the suspects were all laid out early on in the book and as you got through each chapter you were left wondering – could it be….AWESOME! For me, the pace was perfect – a gradual build up of tension throughout until the big reveal and OMFG – what a BOOM! As for characters…this book was RICH with some fantastic, well developed characters that had me curious throughout! I wanted to know EVERYTHING about them – and Will Dean did not disappoint. I will mention just a few though as I think this is the type of book where you have to EXPERIENCE everything and my own views may differ from others. Tuva Moodyson is now on my list of favourite characters- no doubt about that! After leaving London to help her mother, Tuva finds herself working in a small town newspaper office as a reporter. Tuva is deaf – though she can hear with the use of hearing aids. I love how she switches off her hearing aids when she wants to shut out the world. I also loved that she was determined that her hearing impairment doesn’t define her. I suspect there is a lot more for the reader to learn about this character, especially relating to her life in London as we really only scratch the surface – Eeeek! I can’t wait! Another character…well two…who captured my interest were those creepy sisters and their trolls….WTAF!? I rarely get freaked out…but WOW – totally got under my skin ….even now I am getting shivers just thinking about them! Finally – Frida and Hannes- a helpful couple, right? Erm…the pair are the type of couple that everyone seems to love on the surface but talk about behind their back. I personally thought this pair were fascinating. Frida is exceptionally inappropriate but you get the impression that although what she says at times is very offensive, it is down to her ignorance rather than being intentional. I really want to mention a few more characters – but I don’t want to overload readers and take away the pleasure of discovery when they first come across them! So I won’t – buy the book and find out for yourself! So the million dollar (pound??) question is – would I recommend this book? Holy sh*tballs, peeps! You bet your sweet arse I do…with bells on! This was an incredible debut and I am soooo thrilled I had the opportunity to read this prior to publication. Dark, intriguing, atmospheric – the perfect delivery of noir on a plate – a deliciously twisted journey that will have you aching for more when you hit the last page – grab your copy of Dark Pines now and tell me I am wrong! #TopReadof2018 #BOOM!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Nordic noir at it's finest! What a compelling story this was. This is a slow burning novel but never once did I lose interest. Our main character Tuva is a deaf, bi-sexual reporter whom I've become seriously attached to. She is such a wonderful character that you just can't help but root for her. The scenery depictions really sets the atmosphere of this novel. I almost felt like I was in Sweden while reading it. The mystery centers around hunters being murdered in the forest, and if that isn't b Nordic noir at it's finest! What a compelling story this was. This is a slow burning novel but never once did I lose interest. Our main character Tuva is a deaf, bi-sexual reporter whom I've become seriously attached to. She is such a wonderful character that you just can't help but root for her. The scenery depictions really sets the atmosphere of this novel. I almost felt like I was in Sweden while reading it. The mystery centers around hunters being murdered in the forest, and if that isn't bad enough, they also have their eyes extracted. I'll admit that I did guess who the killer was and I was correct. Normally this would disappoint me. I like being tricked. In this case though I realize I would of been disappointed otherwise. It just HAD to be this person. At least it's who I wanted it to be. The only thing that irked me a bit was the mention of all the insects while it's freezing outside, even snowing at times. She mentions it's 0 degrees quite often and even if that is Celsius that would be 32 degrees Fahrenheit and surely mosquitoes, ticks, gnats and the like wouldn't be a nuisance in those weather conditions yet the insects are referred to many, many times. Unless Sweden has super scary crazy insects that thrive in any condition. If that's the case then any plans I have ever entertained to visit Sweden have been destroyed. As you can see this is a very minor quibble but something I did pick up on while I was reading. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Robertson

    I have only recently become a fan of “nordic noir” as I was never too sure whether it was going to be quite my cup of tea! But after I had read my first one, and LOVED IT, then I got braver about the variety of books I tried and my love affair with the genre has now gone from strength to strength. Still, I know some readers worry they won’t gel with a translation to English or lots of difficult to pronounce names or places. So I think that if you want to try Nordic noir then Dark Pines would be I have only recently become a fan of “nordic noir” as I was never too sure whether it was going to be quite my cup of tea! But after I had read my first one, and LOVED IT, then I got braver about the variety of books I tried and my love affair with the genre has now gone from strength to strength. Still, I know some readers worry they won’t gel with a translation to English or lots of difficult to pronounce names or places. So I think that if you want to try Nordic noir then Dark Pines would be the PERFECT place to begin your journey into the dark unknown!! Will Dean has a huge affinity with Sweden, as you will realise when you read his bio, which comes across in his beautifully written and knowledgeable narrative. Darkly atmospheric with a richly textured landscape this is a thriller that will grab you with both hands and then refuse to give you back until it has rung every emotion you possess out of you!! This book has one of the most intriguing and intense protagonists I have ever encountered in a debut novel so I was hugely relieved to discover that Tuva Moodyson will return in another mystery!! I absolutely loved her sprirt, her determination and her courage. In fact everything about her personality fitted perfectly into the jigsaw of the small town mentality of Gavrik especially the way she refused to let herself be defined by her disability. Her purposeful approach to her investigation into the murders, reporting for the local newspaper, was breathtaking. But more importantly, I believed in her and found myself transported to her life, developing an understanding of what made her tick as the storyline developed. I was literally on the edge of my seat shouting at her to beware of what was in those woods! Yes, those dark pines of the title are an integral part of this plotline and they are everywhere, affecting the whole community in every part of their day to day existence. It sometimes felt as though there was one of those “scratch and sniff” cards hidden within the pages as I’m convinced I could smell pine needles as I rapidly read this intensely gripping thriller! I was utterly convinced by the setting plus the weird and completely wonderful characters who inhabited it, enjoying the methodical way Tuva approached them all as she sought to discover the truth about the recent murders and whether they were related to the historic Medusa killings. Touches of dark humour gave a sharper edge to some of the character interactions and I especially loved the relationship between Tuva and her friend Tammy. But to be honest I found everything about Dark Pines to be compulsive reading from start to finish. I just loved every word on every page and I am so excited about this author that I want every crime fan to read this book! This is such a self assured debut that it met all the challenges of it’s genre and then some! Highly recommended by me!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    3.5*** Dark, Gritty and Atmospheric! The heroine of this book, Tuva Moodyson, a young deaf woman, is the local reporter in a very small Swedish town called Gavrik. She usually reports on local news, run-of-the-mill stories derived from rumour and council minutes. However, when a dead body appears, with the eyes missing, in Utgard forest, not far from Gavrik, Tuva has the chance to write a story that will change and further her career. The frightening thing about this murder is that it resembles t 3.5*** Dark, Gritty and Atmospheric! The heroine of this book, Tuva Moodyson, a young deaf woman, is the local reporter in a very small Swedish town called Gavrik. She usually reports on local news, run-of-the-mill stories derived from rumour and council minutes. However, when a dead body appears, with the eyes missing, in Utgard forest, not far from Gavrik, Tuva has the chance to write a story that will change and further her career. The frightening thing about this murder is that it resembles the 'Medusa murders'... murders that took place two decades before. So is this a copycat? Who is the killer and why are they starting up again now? Tuva is an outsider to the community. She moved to the community to be closer to her mum who has deteriorating health issues. She walks a narrow line where locals are critical of her for creating bad press for the town. Tuva is ambitious and curious, digging further into the murders, despite hostility from the town and Police, receiving strange gifts and putting herself in danger. The murders happen close to Mossen Village, an out-of-the-way very small community of houses in Utgard forest. Along the way of Tuva's investigation, she meets a plethora of characters from this village, all very bizarre in their own individual way. Will Dean does a brilliant job of describing the atmosphere. You can almost feel yourself suffocating from all the pines in the forest, the darkening weather and thick snow. A perfect setting for a murder. I'm only rating this 3.5*** as I predicted the ending of this fairly easily. However, each new bit of information that is revealed creates more theories of whodunit.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    Hum - what can I say. I'm afraid I found this pretty predictable really. Forest in Sweden with hunters and bodies in - yes I think I have some idea what is going to happen. Maybe I've read too many books (!!!). While I liked Tuva as a character I was less than convinced by her. She really did seem like a female written by a guy - I never really felt she was female. The pace wasn't bad and the ending was ok but not enough to make me want to read any more by the author I'm afraid. I realise others Hum - what can I say. I'm afraid I found this pretty predictable really. Forest in Sweden with hunters and bodies in - yes I think I have some idea what is going to happen. Maybe I've read too many books (!!!). While I liked Tuva as a character I was less than convinced by her. She really did seem like a female written by a guy - I never really felt she was female. The pace wasn't bad and the ending was ok but not enough to make me want to read any more by the author I'm afraid. I realise others are fan but I'm not one. 3 at best I think

  23. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Blackmore

    Welcome to Gavrik, a small, rural Swedish town that is the epitome of one word... isolation. Hunting is a way of life here. Guns are everywhere. Eccentricity is considered normal here. And boy, are there a ton of secrets. We follow the local newspaper journalist, Tuva Moodyson. She's hungry for a big break to prove herself, independent, brave, and curious by nature. She carries a few personal burdens and hang-ups that really add to her complexity and influence her actions/decision making. I rea Welcome to Gavrik, a small, rural Swedish town that is the epitome of one word... isolation. Hunting is a way of life here. Guns are everywhere. Eccentricity is considered normal here. And boy, are there a ton of secrets. We follow the local newspaper journalist, Tuva Moodyson. She's hungry for a big break to prove herself, independent, brave, and curious by nature. She carries a few personal burdens and hang-ups that really add to her complexity and influence her actions/decision making. I really enjoyed her as a protagonist. She's practically completely deaf and it's just such a refresh and unique perspective that I've never really read with before. I like the lead character who has their demons and Tuva's awareness of her own alcoholism really adds some grit and depth to her personality. Gavrik is a dark place. Like disturbingly dark. Everyone has a secret to hide and Tuva is investigating her way to the truth... The additional ensemble cast of characters are also certainly intriguing. (Think Twin Peaks' quirkiness colliding with the grittiness of Netflix's series Dark). Your curiosity will be piqued enough to encourage turning over to the next page. The town itself is a powerful setting. Its remote location, huge expanse of evergreen forest, and cold harsh weather make the perfect setting for a moody murder mystery. So we have eyeless murder victims popping up in the forest. A great protagonist. An awesome location and unforgettable characters. So why doesn't this story emanate more with me? Well, that's it. It's the story. Dean clearly can write well, you can't deny him of that. But I personally didn't feel invested enough. The reveal, while a solid plot twist, was somewhat expected and predictable. The resolution felt rushed and we don't really soak in the chaotic collateral damage caused by these murders anywhere near enough. There's a few glimmers of gold though. I feel like we missed some great opportunities to explore more about some of Gavrik's more mysterious and unusual residents. The sequence of books seems to increase in reader scores for further installments, so I'm pretty excited to keep with the series. For some, I reckon this proves to be an absolute gem. Final Verdict: 6 out of 10

  24. 4 out of 5

    William

    Slow start, adequate prose, nice characters and descriptive passages. Improves as the author gains confidence. This book is more about characters and pacing than plot. There are some procedural elements, but I enjoyed the laid-back style in the first half book. Then, Chapter 38 is wonderful! Wow, a breakthrough for Dean. Great prose and observation. Nice pacing. This improvement lasts a chapter or two, then settles back to the previous, merely adequate style. The climax and solution to the murder Slow start, adequate prose, nice characters and descriptive passages. Improves as the author gains confidence. This book is more about characters and pacing than plot. There are some procedural elements, but I enjoyed the laid-back style in the first half book. Then, Chapter 38 is wonderful! Wow, a breakthrough for Dean. Great prose and observation. Nice pacing. This improvement lasts a chapter or two, then settles back to the previous, merely adequate style. The climax and solution to the murders is a bit of a surprise, but the presentation is clumsy, drawn out, pacing poor. Almost an info-dump. Not bad for a first book. Murder weapon - Karabiner 98k Full size image here Notes and quotes: She says nothing, just walks off. I concentrate on her armband and block out everything else. I’m deaf but I hear everything, every twig snap, every owl hoot, every branch creak. I thought it was eerily silent in these places but I was wrong. It is eerily fucking noisy. - Lars told me once that his TV is his best friend and his broadband connection is his family, especially in the winter months. He said they keep him going. TV and coffee and alcohol: the holy trinity of cold countries. - ‘Why do you need a rifle?’ ‘I thought we went through this. I’m a cute young Asian woman living amongst Neanderthal men who see me as sub-human yet still very much fuckable. So that’s why I carry it. - The tongue comes out and then stops. It reaches the top of the troll’s chest; it’s about as long as my middle finger. I want to take the troll to Thord and have it arrested and locked up in a jail cell. .

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ruthy lavin

    I’m a big fan of Scandi Noir and this book did not disappoint. Great descriptive writing set a wonderful mental picture of this small, rural Swedish town, surrounded by dense forest. Pair it with a very likeable and unique main character, totally deaf journalist Tuva, and you have a winning combination. A great story, enthralling from beginning to end, I’ve immediately downloaded the second instalment and I am excited to read more of Will Dean’s work. An easy 4 star rating.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Janel

    Something I‘ve come to love in books is when a murder investigation takes place through the eyes of a journalist because the main protagonist, in this case, Tuva, isn’t bound by police protocol but instead has the freedom of a journalist and that leaves the plot wide open. Tuva is a wonderful character, who I liked instantly; she’s tasked with reporting on the latest murders to hit the small town of Gavrik, not only does this mean venturing into the woods, which, understandably, she finds terrify Something I‘ve come to love in books is when a murder investigation takes place through the eyes of a journalist because the main protagonist, in this case, Tuva, isn’t bound by police protocol but instead has the freedom of a journalist and that leaves the plot wide open. Tuva is a wonderful character, who I liked instantly; she’s tasked with reporting on the latest murders to hit the small town of Gavrik, not only does this mean venturing into the woods, which, understandably, she finds terrifying, but she also has to deal with the hostility from the local folk who believe her story will give the town a bad name. But Tuva is concerned with the truth, and she’ll be damned if she isn’t going to find it! I applaud Dean for, what felt to me like, an accurate and insightful portrayal of a character who is deaf; prior to reading this novel, I had no idea, for example, about the static that could interfere with hearing aids. Dark Pines is set in a small-town and conveys that small town atmosphere very well, in the sense of everyone knowing everyone. And what an odd set of residents this town has, from the weird taxi driver to the woodcarving sisters, just about anyone could be responsible for these murders. I did enjoy this novel, but I’m slightly torn about my overall opinion of it – there’s no denying it has all the right ingredients to make a fantastic read: small-town, dark woods, creepy characters, cold climate, murder mystery, but something was just missing in this one for me. It just didn’t carry that moody atmosphere I crave in Nordic Noir, that beauty wrapped in darkness, it’s hard to explain but it feels like I read this book at surface level, and was never really able to immerse myself fully in the novel the way I would have liked and is usually a given when I read Nordic Noir. While I recognise all that’s good about this book, I just struggled to connect with it in the way I would have liked. *My thanks to the publisher for allowing me access to a digital copy of this title via Netgalley*

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Debut mystery novel by a non-writer. The story was okay. I didn't find it particularly dark. It did have some interesting characters. I had a huge issue with the author's writing style and his choice of words. His writing seemed inconsistent throughout. At times, I had the feeling he was rushing through scenes instead of taking the time to flesh them out better. He also clearly does a poor job writing female characters, even if LGBTQ. The female protagonist's narrative just reads as though it is Debut mystery novel by a non-writer. The story was okay. I didn't find it particularly dark. It did have some interesting characters. I had a huge issue with the author's writing style and his choice of words. His writing seemed inconsistent throughout. At times, I had the feeling he was rushing through scenes instead of taking the time to flesh them out better. He also clearly does a poor job writing female characters, even if LGBTQ. The female protagonist's narrative just reads as though it is playing out through a male character's eyes, thoughts, and actions versus those of a woman. Overall, it just didn't work as a whole for me. Tuva Moodyson is 26 and has moved from London back to a small town in Sweden called Gavrik to be close to her mother in hospice care though she never takes the time to visit her. Tuva is a journalist at the small local paper when a body shows up missing its eyes in the dark forest. Having worked as an intern at The Guardian in London, Tuva sees this murder as her big opportunity to write a sensational story allowing her to be picked up as a journalist for a larger paper in a big city. Other same murders happen and there is a link to similar murders from the 1990s that suddenly stopped shortly after they began. To investigate, Tuva has to fight against small-town politics to not disparage the town's name while also digging to report the dirty truth without the assistance of the police.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marina

    (Actually, 4.5 stars and I'll explain why later...) Welcome to Sweden’s weirdest village! Meet the terrible troll-carving sisters, who enhance their ugly dolls with real human body hair. And the secretive writer with a taste for extreme cuisine. Then there’s Benny, Bjorn and Frida – no Agnetha, though, unfortunately. Somebody’s been shooting people and cutting out their eyes, and Tuva, a journalist on the local paper, is on the case. It’s rare that I care much about the ‘detective’ in my thrill (Actually, 4.5 stars and I'll explain why later...) Welcome to Sweden’s weirdest village! Meet the terrible troll-carving sisters, who enhance their ugly dolls with real human body hair. And the secretive writer with a taste for extreme cuisine. Then there’s Benny, Bjorn and Frida – no Agnetha, though, unfortunately. Somebody’s been shooting people and cutting out their eyes, and Tuva, a journalist on the local paper, is on the case. It’s rare that I care much about the ‘detective’ in my thrillers, but I do think Tuva is a great character and I enjoyed reading a story with a deaf heroine. As the clues mounted up I was (silently) screaming at the book, willing her to make the connections. But actually, one of the clues must have been an unexplained red herring which has left me baffled. (view spoiler)[ It was what Viggo’s child said to her about the blocked-off room. (hide spoiler)] If it wasn’t for that, I would have given it 5 stars. Never mind, there were some real gasp-aloud moments and a satisfying conclusion. This is my first fiction read for 2019 and it’s got the year off to a great start, so thank you Sarah for giving me this book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    A really polished and accomplished debut and I'm loving that this is going to be a series! Dark, atmospheric and at times claustrophobic, Dark Pines is well written, the characters are vividly drawn and I loved the witty and observant descriptions of life in the remote Swedish town. It's a tense and compelling mystery and Tuva Moodyson has joined the list of my favourite characters :) Thank you Oneworld Publications for the Arc of this book - I'm really looking forward to the next instalment. 4 - A really polished and accomplished debut and I'm loving that this is going to be a series! Dark, atmospheric and at times claustrophobic, Dark Pines is well written, the characters are vividly drawn and I loved the witty and observant descriptions of life in the remote Swedish town. It's a tense and compelling mystery and Tuva Moodyson has joined the list of my favourite characters :) Thank you Oneworld Publications for the Arc of this book - I'm really looking forward to the next instalment. 4 - 4.5 stars

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura Rash

    Fans of Enger, Jonasson & Aldridge will love Dark Pines! A very descriptive, chilling murder mystery set in the forest will give you a slight case of the heebie jeebies but you’ll enjoy it! Tuva, the main character, is deaf and the insight of using hearing aids & every day life for her was an education. I have to thank the author for sending me this signed copy from Sweden! 🌲🌲🌲 Fans of Enger, Jonasson & Aldridge will love Dark Pines! A very descriptive, chilling murder mystery set in the forest will give you a slight case of the heebie jeebies but you’ll enjoy it! Tuva, the main character, is deaf and the insight of using hearing aids & every day life for her was an education. I have to thank the author for sending me this signed copy from Sweden! 🌲🌲🌲

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