The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin has been sitting on my To Be Read pile for a while. It was only when I finished it that I realised it’s the second of a quartet of books, each set on the island of Öland, Sweden’s second largest island and the smallest of its traditional provinces. Having said that, I think the series must be based more on the setting rather than any plot elements, as The Darkest Room reads like a stand-alone book.
This is where my book begins, Katrine, the year when the manor house at Eel Point was built. For me the house was more than a house where my mother and I lived, it was the place where I became an adult.
…I have heard the dead whispering in the walls. They have so much to tell.
So begins the story of a house on Öland where a young couple, Katrine and Joakim, take up residence with their two children after a family tragedy in Stockholm. This is part of a story within a story, written by Katrine’s artist mother Mirja Rambe, herself the daughter of a famous artist. This secondary story is a tale of lives lost at the house over the centuries, and the souls of the dead who, according to local legend, come back at Christmas.
The larger narrative that makes up the central plot weaves around the points of view of three characters: Katrine’s husband, Joakim; Henrik, a petty criminal; and a police officer, Tilda, who has come to the island to establish a police presence at a time when the community is beset by burglaries and vandalism. These characters’ lives resonate with echoes of past injustices and family secrets. They are drawn together in a thrilling climax during a Christmas blizzard when their fates are decided.
The Darkest Room was voted Best Swedish Crime Novel of 2008 and it’s not hard to see why. The story captivates the reader from page one and keeps intriguing till the end.
Author: Johna Theorin
I own a copy.