Over at International Noir Fiction, Glen Harper has a perceptive review of Johan Theorin’s Echoes from the Dead, which I am just finishing up myself. He points out that there’s a folktale element to the story in the way that the past and present stories are told.
Theorin is looking for an equivalent for the folk tale or ghost story within the framework of a realistic crime novel. The “troll” of the book is Nils Kant, a murderer who disappeared decades earlier but remains in the community’s memory as part ghost, part “boogey man,” and possible child murderer, with rumors that he is not actually buried in his coffin in the graveyard. Ghosts seem to occupy his deceased mother’s abandoned, decrepit house. The “alvar,” the grassy plain of the island, becomes a haunting character itself. The chapters of the book loosely alternate among the perspectives of the mother, the grandfather, and the troll. There are a number of references to second sight and other paranormal perceptions, but more as metaphor than as plot points. . . . Theorin’s tale is a complex intertwining of a straightforward story of loss, a rational investigation of the past, and a passage through the nightmare world of the old stories–it’s fascinating to watch the story twist and turn through all of its facets. Theorin is another in a seemingly bottomless pool of sophisticated and effective Scandinavian crime writers.