I am so pleased to read on Euro Crime blog that Johan Theorin's The Darkest Room, superbly translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, has won the International Dagger award for 2010.
I think this book is wonderful, far more than a standard crime book. The author is extremely talented and combines a good plot with a sensitive observation of character, time and place. Although I read the book some time ago, it haunts me still.
The other books on the shortlist are all excellent, I recommend them all. For me, Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason came next-closest to winning, but on balance I felt The Darkest Room was a more rounded book – though my own emotional identification with the protagonist in Hypothermia is stronger.
My Euro Crime review begins…."THE DARKEST ROOM is a wonderful book, framed as the story of a wooden house, Eel Point, on the coast of the small island of Oland, Sweden – an island where the population is small and the old traditions continue. The house has a long, tragic history associated with the building of the two lighthouses on the nearby rocks, shipwrecks and various residents. The brief stories of these old tragedies are told in short sections interleaving the book's chapters, showing how Eel Point has become regarded today as haunted. The reader is never sure whether the ghosts are real, or to what extent the house's sad, cruel past is influencing current events." Read on here.
I think the judges did a great job in a year when the competition was intense – not only Hypothermia and The Darkest Room, but The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, the superb climax to Siteg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, and 13 Hours, Deon Meyer's adrenalin-packed thriller. Badfellas (Tony Benacquista) and August Heat (Andrea Camilleri) are also noble contenders.
Now, our next task is to read the novels eligible for the 2011 award, a delightful prospect. Or, if you have not yet done so, you can read the winner and the five other titles that made up the 2010 shortlist. My reviews of all six can be accessed from this post.
Euro Crime list of titles eligible for the 2011 award, which will be updated as new titles are published.