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The Darkest Room: A Novel Paperback – September 29, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Öland Quartet Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Theorin's intense and atmospheric thriller, his second after Echoes from the Dead, Stockholm schoolteacher Joakim Westin has just joined his wife, Katrine, and their two young children at their new house on Eel Point on the northern island of Öland. When Katrine mysteriously drowns in shallow water near Eel Point's twin lighthouses, Joakim can't shake the feeling that Katrine is still with him. Though the police declare Katrine's death an accident, a new rookie cop in the area, Tilda Davidsson, isn't convinced and quietly pursues her own investigation. Joakim and Tilda's paths intertwine as they both uncover disturbing secrets about Eel Point's past. Theorin crafts a modern ghost story, expertly weaving together the present with glimpses into the lives—and deaths—of Eel Point's previous residents. Fans of dark Scandinavian crime fiction will welcome this new voice. (Oct.)
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“A fantastic first novel . . . haunting and lyrical.”—Guardian, London

“Theorin’s deeply disturbing debut will remind many of Henning Mankell both in its thematic intensity and dark tone.”—Publishers Weekly

“Vividly rendered . . . The fully fleshed characters and excellent plot should appeal to all crime and thriller readers.”—Booklist, starred review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385342225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385342223
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Throughout his life, Johan Theorin has been a regular visitor to the Baltic island of Oland, where his books are set. His mother's family - sailors, fishermen and farmers - have lived there for centuries, nurturing the island's rich legacy of strange tales and folklore. A journalist by profession, Johan lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since I discovered Karin Fossum's "The Indian Bride" last year, I've been hooked on the mysteries/thrillers by Scandinavian authors. My favorites are Karin Fossum, Henning Mankell, Steig Larssen, Mari Jungstedt, Arnaldur Indridasson, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and now, Johan Theorin. I picked "The Darkest Room" as a Kindle title, and did not expect to be so completely drawn in by the haunting mystery and the rich atmosphere surrounding the island of Oland, off the Swedish coast.

The main setting is Eel Point, which is made up of an imposing and historic manor house, itself built using timber from a shipwreck and thus associated with superstitions by the locals who think it cursed. This is not helped by the dark reputation it has acquired over the decades after several deaths there. The author credibly uses the flashback technique to show us the numerous tragedies that have befallen the inhabitants of Eel Point over the years since the 1800s. In the contemporary setting, the reader is introduced to Joakim and Katrine Westin, a young couple who have recently moved from Stockholm to Oland, having bought the manor house at Eel Point. Together with their two young children, Livia and Gabriel, the family is in the process of settling into their new home when tragedy strikes. Tilda Davidsson is the novice cop who assumes responsibility on the island and finds her hands full dealing with suspicious break-ins throughout the island, a complicated love affair, and also a great-uncle who is recounting old family stories to her.

The different story arcs are well-explored and credibly told, with a cast of interesting characters that are also explored at length, especially the main characters, i.e. Joakim and Tilda.
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Unfortunately, some of the reviews here have revealed too much of the plot, thus robbing future readers of some very nice surprises.

Having said that, in my opinion Johan Theorin is well on his way to becoming as big a writer as Henning Mankell. Like Mankell, this author's writing transcends the mystery genre and becomes literature. And fans of Scandinavian mysteries (of which I am one) will appreciate Theorin's wonderful descriptions of the Swedish island's fierce landscape and weather, almost transforming them into major characters.
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Format: Paperback
Johan Theorin's "The Darkest Room," expertly translated by Marlaine Delargy, takes place on a desolate island named Öland off the coast of Sweden, facing the Baltic Sea. Eel Point has a bleak history, and some claim that the spirits of those who died here still make their presence known to the living. In a series of flashbacks, the author provides disturbing snapshots of a series of tragedies that, he implies, has marked Eel Point as a place forever corrupted by evil. The Westin family is oblivious to this when they move into a "magnificent lighthouse keeper's manor house" that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. Joakim and Katrine Westin have been married for seven years. They have a talent for restoring and decorating old homes and Katrine has already started working her magic on this one. When Joakim joins her and their two young children after he finishes his work on the mainland, he plans to help his wife complete the renovations.

Eel Point's bad karma may indeed be a factor when disaster strikes and Joakim is left to pick up the pieces. Little does he know that other dramas are playing out on the island, as well. A small band of thieves have started targeting uninhabited homes, and they soon set their sights on making larger hauls from houses whose owners are asleep. In addition, a twenty-seven year old police officer named Tilda Davidsson, who has just started a new job at Marnäs, is paying frequent visits to her grandfather's brother, former sea captain Gerlof Davidsson. At eighty, the old man remains extremely sharp. Not only does he have an excellent memory, but he enjoys solving difficult puzzles and finding connections that others miss. All of these plot threads eventually converge in a most unpredictable manner.
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Format: Paperback
Schoolteacher Joakim Westin has finally tied up all loose ends and has made the move from Stockholm to join his wife Katrine and their two small children in their new home on Eel Point on the island of Öland. Katrine has made great strides in remodeling the large home while Joakim was in Stockholm, and he's looking forward to joining with her to finish it up.

One day Joakim comes home to discover that Katrine has drowned in shallow water near Eel Point's twin lighthouses. Although the police proclaim it an accident, Tilda Davidsson, a cop new to the area, isn't convinced and conducts her own investigation in her free time. And while a burglary ring breaks into summer homes and Tilda quietly gathers information, the grieving Joakim and his children feel that Katrine is somehow still with them.

Once again the setting is Öland, an island that the author is very familiar with, having spent many childhood summers there. Theorin's family, sailors and farmers, has lived on the island for generations. His physical knowledge of the area has combined with the stories and the history of the place to make wonderfully atmospheric books. The Darkest Room, in many ways, is even more atmospheric and horripilating than his first book, Echoes From the Dead, which I also loved.

A thin thread links this second book to the first, since Tilda Davidsson is the great niece of Gerlof Davidsson who played such a large role in Echoes From the Dead. Joakim Westin grieves so much for his wife that it's not always certain whether what he's seeing and hearing is really there. The three burglars are unpredictable, and that increases the sense of unease. And then Theorin weaves in the stories and histories of Eel Point from several generations. Each story explains a bit more.
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