The Darkest Room and more from Johan Theorin and Marlaine Delargy

My review of the superb book The Darkest Room, by Johan Theorin and excellently translated by Marlaine Delargy, was published last Sunday at Euro Crime. I feel that my review did not do this brilliant story full justice; I also think that I did not edit and revise the review enough times before finishing it, so apologies to those who read it for those aspects. Be that as it may, I think this author combines the talents of a natural storyteller, an excellent plotter, a shrewed yet sympathetic observer, and a sensitive empathiser, more than any author currently writing crime fiction. (I would be delighted if anyone could provide examples that would contradict this assertion!). It is, I think, impossible to do this rich book justice in a brief review, but here is an excerpt:

Above all, the author himself is a wonderful storyteller; one becomes totally immersed in his Oland world and in the lives and personalities of the superbly well-observed characters, major and minor. He is also a great plotter – the main stories as well as the minor ones weave in and out of each other: apparently small details in one story turn out to be highly relevant in another. [read on here.]

There are some other very good reviews of this book which I link to in this post 'Not getting away with Scandinavian murder'. If you haven't read these reviews, I do urge you to, in case you think I am just getting a bit carried away. I do think that Johan Theorin has a special talent.

I was enormously flattered to receive an email from Marlaine Delargy, the translator of Johan Theorin's novels, after my review of The Darkest Room was published. Apparently she and the author read and enjoyed my review, nice enough in itself but it is heartwarming that they took the trouble to write to tell me so. Marlaine writes about an earlier, equally superb, book by the same author, Echoes From the Dead: the small-format paperback issued this year in the UK by Black Swan contains "about 8 wonderful black and white photographs in the back, all from Johan, and he has written a short commentary on each one. They really help to bring his stories to life, and there's also the map of Öland that's in the front of The Darkest Room." I think I shall be buying this edition of Echoes From The Dead to see these photographs and read the commentary.

Finally, Marlaine writes about Johan Theorin: "he's hard at work on his third novel, and the publishers are hoping it will be ready around Christmas." Me, too!

9 thoughts on “The Darkest Room and more from Johan Theorin and Marlaine Delargy

  1. I concur with everything Maxine has written about The Darkest Room, and Echoes From The Dead, which I picked incorrectly as the winner of the International Dagger.
    Johan Theorin constructs his novels so brilliantly that at the end everything fits neatly together like a jigsaw, which is one of the reasons we read crime fiction. We want everything to turn out a lot better than it does in real life.

  2. I’m always chuffed to hear when authors and translators of books I’ve enjoyed are nice people. Not that it really matters I suppose to my enjoyment of their books if they’re nice or not but it’s good to think I’m not wasting my time on nasty people🙂
    You’re right about Theorin being a great story teller – I am looking forward to reading The Darkest Room (I’ll need to catch up if there’s going to be a third one on the way).

  3. I agree with all that has been said about Theorin.
    Marlaine Delargy is also the translator of the most
    interesting Nordic fiction I have read this year.
    The Unit –by Niini Holmqvist. Published in US-
    but available from Amazon-Uk.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly. I was impressed by “Echoes from the Dead”, especially as a first novel, but was even more impressed by “The Darkest Room”. Before reading the second book I was somewhat apprehensive about the supernatural element, but it integrates well with the rest of the story and the result is a cohesive narrative with several strands.

  5. Bernd reviwed Echoes from the Dead today. He enjoyed the island environment, but was not quite as impressed with the characters.

  6. Thanks, all, for your comments – and Dorte for your encapsulation of Bernd’s review, which is probably written in German (unfortunately, I cannot read that language).
    Thanks, Simon, for your comment about The Unit. Marlaine wrote in her email that she thinks this book very good, also – it is on my list due to your and others’ previous recommendations so that’s definitely one I am going to prioritise.

  7. I think I can read German, but sometimes when I comment on Bernd´s posts I can see I have taken something more seriously than he meant it or missed some of the subtler points. He assures me that though he found some of the characters too flat (e.g. too angry or too depressed), he did enjoy the novel, and he has linked to your review, EuroCrime and my review.

  8. Thanks, Dorte! I’ve made a (feeble) comment over at his blog. It is really nice when he comments at Friend Feed, and his English is certainly far better than my (virtually non-existent) German.

  9. I like Norm’s thoughts on the reason we read crime fiction – a jigsaw puzzle with everything neatly falling into place at the end.

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