Johan Theorin

The Darkest Room

""Those who were enthralled by Theorin’s first book will love this second..." "


Katrine and Joakim Westim move to an old manor house at Eel Point on the Swedish island of Öland. Although in need of extensive renovation, Katrine in particular is enchanted by the history of the old house and the nearby lighthouses. However, the house has a bleak past as evidenced by the list of names of dead people connected to Eel Point which she stumbles across one day.

Not long after, Katrine is found drowned off the rocks nearby. Although seemingly a tragic accident, Joakim cannot understand why Katrine was drawn to the lonely jetty, a riddle that Tilda Davidsson, a new police recruit on the island is keen to solve. As the deepening winter encroaches on the islanders a series of break-ins are an unwelcome distraction for the island's police. However, as the burglars extend their range of victims the crisis at Eel Point and the Island's house thefts converge to make Christmas Eve a night that no-one will ever forget.

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This latest book by Johan Theorin is a mixture of thriller and ghost story. Theorin convincingly conjures up the remoteness of the old manor house and its turbulent and deadly history. This is combined with the modern day supernatural narrative which has the children of Joachim and Katrine seeing their dead mother and aunt in the night. At times the ghostly element to the book takes dominance but this in no way detracts from the thriller narrative. Katrine, the murder victim, is never really given a strong personality and instead the book focuses on the actions and emotions of Joachim. He is a convincingly distraught husband and the fractured family relationships that result from a bereavement are also very well captured. The parallel narrative of the house breakers of Öland is less interesting than the main plot but adds to the dramatic tension which culminates in the Christmas Eve blizzard. It also serves to show that although the book has supernatural elements the murder is firmly based in worldly matters. There is a continuity between the prevalent crimes of the past – wrecking and seduction – and their modern day equivalent – drugs and robbery. Those who were enthralled by Theorin's first book will love this second and may even recognise some of the characters of Öland.

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