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!