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Black Water: A Novel Paperback – 18 Mar 2010

19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 446 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Slight Moisture Damage edition (18 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312152477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312152475
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,977,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"[A] rich adventure, the kind of long, lush, thoughtful page-turner many of us crave but rarely get our hands on" (Beverly Lowry New York Times)

"The best novel I've read this year" (Rose Tremain Independent)

"A powerful, atavistic book...full of threat and mystery. Wonderful strong stuff" (Lisa Cody) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

‘A magnificent and truly terrifying thriller’ Image --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By jfp2006 on 2 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinarily complex and ingeniously plotted novel, and to categorise it as a thriller or a crime novel is only to touch the surface of the different aspects of its complexity.
'Blackwater' begins from the point of view a woman called Annie who, awoken by her daughter Mia, who is in her early twenties, returning home in the middle of the night, convinces herself the man with her daughter is the same man she saw eighteen years previously and whom she has always believed to be guilty of the brutal stabbing of two tourists sleeping in a tent. Annie herself had been the first person to discover the bodies of the tourists, on Midsummer Evening, when arriving with Mia, then a little girl, to pitch in her lot with a commune in the desolate north of Scandinavia.
The novel then slowly recreates the disturbing circumstances of the murder through a long and very complex combination of flashbacks seen from different points of view, before returning, at the opening of Part II, to its starting-point and the subsquent revival of interest in a double murder whose motives had never originally been explained (and a murderer who had never been caught).
The plot itself is watertight, but the postmodernist narrative techniques deployed are complex, and sometimes deliberately misleading: information is crucially withheld in order to develop and slowly increase an atmosphere of suspense which gradually becomes overwhelming.
Yet there is much more than suspense and unsolved mystery here. The characters are complex, and all of them have something to hide, or at the very least shady areas of their pasts which they are unwilling to contemplate.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shelfseeker on 4 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I am not going to add much to the previous positive reviews here, but it grieves me that this extraordinary novel has been so misunderstood on this and other review sites, so I'm marking my five stars against this title. Blackwater is absolutely NOT a conventional plot-driven action thriller or police procedural. This novel is a profound study of individual psychology and and the impact of insular rural life in a harsh but very beautiful sub-arctic region. It reflects on the intellectual, political and social preoccupations of Sweden in the early 1970s through the characters affected by the murders of two campers. But if that sounds dry, I must say Ekman achieves this with a compelling, beautifully written narrative, and with enormous humanity. It is the final act of humanity in the book that redeems all the quiet tragedy that has gone before, and the redemption is offered by the only two characters who have the real right to give it. A profound work that moved me and has kept me thinking.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Alan Barker on 13 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
I am amazed that nobody else has yet written a review of this book. It is one of the most terrifying and literate thrillers I have read.
The story is set in the far northern forests of Sweden and centres on a brutal murder, in the late 1960s, of two foreign tourists. Around this crime, Ekman weaves a tale involving the brutalities of rural life, the commune-based radicalism that was so fashionable in Scandinavia at that time, environmental destruction and - most interestingly - a disturbing racism that seems to lurk within Swedish society.
Kerstin Ekman has clearly spent a long time honing the skills of plotting,but the book delivers much more: powerful ideas about education, memory and politics, and a profound, passionate evocation of nature.
Kerstin Ekman is one of the few contemporary Swedish writers to have become known internationally. I came to Blackwater having read The Forest of Hours, a magnificent historical novel that others have reviewed for Amazon. And I came to that book by chance. She is, for me, a wonderful discovery. We need more of her books in English.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Levine on 15 May 2010
Format: Paperback
This isn't a book for the reader who wants a superficially thrilling mystery novel with a death on every page, full of broken glass and violence. The violence is contained and never either repellingly graphic or superfluous. The novel proceeds slowly and often confusingly. Although it is slow at times I was totally engaged and accepted Ekman's pace and intelligence. It is a marvelous book, way beyond the mystery genre. The environment, a people on the verge of extinction (the Sami), small-townspeople people on the edge of sanity, troubled families, people in love, people who live in small towns on the edge of society, adolescent longing, mother-love, are wrapped like a tissue of humanity around a brutal, incomprehensible murder.
It is as difficult to synopsize the novel as it would be reduce Moby Dick to a fishing story. The first reviewer on the Amazon site did a plot summary as well as could be done. The book is totally engrossing and, at the end, beautifully resolved. I loved the book. For the serious reader it is compelling and richly rewarding.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JHu on 22 April 2011
Format: Paperback
I rate this book highly for reasons which have already been given by many other reviewers. I write this to address the very negative views expressed by some reviewers. Simply put, I think they have been sold a pup.

If you are, as I often am, looking for a straight-forward, shoot-from-the-hip who-dun-it, thriller, crime novel you look under the corresponding labels and you have a reasonable expectation to find something suitable. Ekman is not a crime writer. You might as well categorise Graham Greene, Ian McEwan, or A.L. Kennedy as crime writers. They have all written about crime but the resulting novels are not what is ordinarily considered as "crime novels".

A taxonomic problem, in other words.
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