Dark Pines by Will Dean
The first book in this new crime fiction series is a compelling and deftly written crime drama
Dark Pines is one of those rare debuts – a thoroughly original work of crime fiction in a prolific genre swamped with hackneyed plots and stock characters. Scandinavian crime fiction has gained popularity in recent years and this book ingeniously marries the quintessential chilly setting of Nordic Noir with all the features of a stellar crime novel – an intriguing mystery, singularly interesting characters and a tautly plotted story.
Tuva Moodyson is a young deaf woman who who writes for the local paper in the remote and foreboding town of Gavrik, in rural Sweden. She is biding time by writing insipid articles while she cares for her mother who is on her deathbed. After a body is discovered in the woods with its eyes missing, Moodyson sees covering this crime as her big break. She discovers similarities between this killing to the 'Medusa' murders that occurred twenty years ago.
While she is trying to get to the bottom of these macabre killings, the tight knit community rallies against her for portraying their town in a bad light. The chief characters are bizarre and ingeniously written, adding a layer of intrigue to the proceedings. There is a creepy taxi driver, a pair of sisters who craft trolls using real animal body parts, and a strange ghostwriter with a sinister past.
Dean expertly brings alive the haunting malevolence of the massive, remote forest. Moodyson is one of the most relatable and smart protagonists in crime novels in recent years, which makes for engaging narration. The writing is at once introspective and gripping, resulting in a riveting page-turner. If you are a fan of Twin Peaks, then this sleek, immersive and atmospheric crime drama is definitely for you.