Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Dark Pines by Will Dean

Dark Pines
by Will Dean
Published by Point Blank (4 January 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Publisher's description
An isolated Swedish town.
A deaf reporter terrified of nature.
A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest.
A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

My verdict
Dark Pines is an atmospheric whodunnit set in wintry Sweden.

This book was certainly a page-turner, with a plot that moved along at a steady pace, slower at first and then faster as the tension built up towards the end. The writing is stunning, with the depth of detail enhancing the story without detracting from it. Not only does the small cast of characters give the book a claustrophobic vibe, but vivid descriptions of the dark pine forests, and also the climate, create a chilling setting.

Bodies have been discovered with gunshot wounds and their eyes removed - the same as Medusa murders in the area in the 1990s. Is it the same killer or a copycat? Not all of the locals are happy about local journalist Tuva Moodyson investigating, dredging up the past and also potentially portraying the small close-knit town in a bad light. But Tuva is an independent and determined character.

Tuva's deafness gives her vulnerability, creating a sense of danger throughout the book. She has to rely on her sight when her hearing aid batteries are failing or when she removes them in the rain. Not ideal when you're stumbling in the darkness in wintry conditions, and also fear nature and the forest environment. I admit that I did get a little frustrated when the batteries kept failing and she didn't automatically have spares with her at all times - I would have expected this to be second nature to her. However, the details of her maintaining her hearing aids, and how she deals her deafness, were well-integrated into the story. And her deafness has certainly not held her back in any way.

The book features some very distinct quirky characters and also some very sinister ones - they are well described and well placed, bringing the whole book to life. All quite possibly could be the Medusa killer that Tuva (and the local police) are seeking. Like Tuva, I found myself stumbling around in the darkness as I tried to put together the clues.

Dark Pines kept me guessing, with some great twists, turns and red herrings. Suspense seeped through the pages. I predict lots of award nominations, shortlists and possibly top prizes for this book, with great times ahead. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.


  1. This is the review I wish I wrote - sums the book up perfectly!

    1. That's made me laugh. I think mine is a terrible review (in fact, all mine)!