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This book navigated its way onto my TBR pile some time ago, a purchase from Stanfords in Covent Garden, in the Swedish section.  Will Dean is a Brit who has moved to Sweden with his family and this is his debut novel.  It was selected recently as one of the inaugural books for the Zoe Ball book Club.

What’s the Story?

Tuva Moodyson is a deaf journalist working in a fairly remote town in Sweden for a local paper.  She has moved back from London because her mother is dying, she wants to be near during the final months of her life.  She wants to be a great journalist but doesn’t think that this will happen here but she is biding her time.  A body is found in the woods one day, a male hunter who has been shot in the chest and had his eyes removed.  Similar murders had occurred many years ago but had stopped suddenly though no one had ever been charged with any offences.

In front of the huge forest where the body was found is a track with a number of homes along it.  During the course of her investigative journalism into the matter Tuva visits all the houses to interview the occupants and discovers that they’re all odd.  A hoarder who is anti hunting, a writer who attracted suspicion for the original offences and two sisters who make traditional trolls using human hair, teeth and nails.

Over the course of the story we follow Tuva as she gains entry to these houses and learns people’s stories.  She keeps close track of the police investigation by attending press conferences and further murder scenes.   Press from all over the world start turning up as the body count increases but it is Tuva’s work in the local paper that attracts hatred from the locals and she is treated with increasing hostility by many of the occupants of this remote town.

She finds herself in some difficult situations on a number of occasions.  But are these events linked to the murders or are they just the result of being surrounded by strange people?

Overall I thought this was a very good book.  I thought  the story was well plotted and the pace was ok.  I didn’t think the development of the characters was too good and the first 100 of so pages I really couldn’t connect with Tuva at all.  I think the author was struggling to write a female character to be honest.  For him to have tried a female character then made her deaf certainly helped make the book stand out but I’m not sure it was necessary for the story.  He added in that Tuva is bisexual and hinted around this quite a lot throughout the story.  I think this and the constant attention to the hearing aids and their beeping really served to slow the story down unnecessarily to be honest.  Taking these themes out would have made for a better book.  I also worked out who the killer was and why pretty early on.  But this is something I can’t help but do!  That’s why I like Agatha Christie books because you can’t guess, she doesn’t give you any clues.  If you give me clues though I’ll work it out.  I’m not sure that this detracted though, I was right but the ending was written well and made sense.

I thought this was a really good story with the potential for a good character though I’d look forward to less embarrassed skirting around sexuality and less battery changes on the hearing aids in any future encounters with her.  Good writing, good story, a good start to a writing career I think.  Hopefully the work of Will Dean will continue to improve in the meantime this is a book I can recommend for a chilly Swedish winter during this never ending heat wave!

There’s a videos of the author reading a few paragraphs on the Zoe Ball Book Club website.