Johan Theorin’s The Darkest Room: great Swedish mystery

The Darkest Room is set on the island of Oland in Sweden, and the setting is half the delight of this intriguing mystery. Like many of the Scandinavian mysteries (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series being a notable exception), Theorin’s book downplays the action (although there is, all in all, quite a bit of action), and creates the mists, dramatic blizzards, powerful waves, and other aspects of Oland, past and present,  Joakim and Katrine have recently moved with their two young children from Stockholm to the lightkeeper’s manor house at Eel Point, a huge home in need of repair. They are up to the refurbishing, but unfinished business from the past of the manor house and associated lighthouses, nefarious doings on the part of a trio of morally deficient young islanders, and their own past issues converge with deadly results. The manor house is said to be built with lumber from a massive shipwreck and to be haunted.

Meanwhile, Tilda Davidsson, a young policewoman, has moved to Olaf to become part of a newly created police presence in Marnas, a few miles north of Eel Point. Her commitment to her job comes into play in unravelling the events at the manor house, and her struggles with the smug assumptions of the male-dominated police force form a deft counterpoint to the island histories she and Joakim are unearthing.

I find the subtle, quiet tone of this book a delightful change from some of the American mysteries and thrillers with unending, screaming-level action from start to finish . And it’s fun to read about ferocious blizzards on a sunny beach, should you find yourself on one!

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