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The Land of Dreams (Minnesota Trilogy) Hardcover – 7 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (7 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816689407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816689408
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 331,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
When a young Norwegian man is brutally murdered on the shores of Lake Superior, his body is discovered by Lance Hansen, a US Forest Service cop. As the investigation gets underway, suspicion quickly falls on the victim's friend and companion. Lance is on the sidelines of the investigation, but realises he saw something that night that casts a different light over what may have happened. Will he put his family at risk by telling what he suspects?

The first chapter or two of this novel are very effective - Lance's discovery of the body is dramatic and chilling. However, we are very soon bogged down in a mass of local and family history, as Lance, an amateur genealogist, begins to wonder if this is the first murder committed in the area. There is an attempt to draw parallels between the current crime and an event over a century ago, when Norwegians were beginning to populate this area of Minnesota. This drags the whole book down to a crawl, as we are given endless and repetitive stories about the early days of the settlers and details of the family history of almost every character, while there is very little actual investigation of the murder. Suffice it to say that, since the investigators soon find DNA at the scene, it ought to have been possible to wrap the whole thing up fairly quickly, but for reasons unbeknownst to this reader (who suspects that the writer got himself bogged down in an inconsistency that he hoped the reader wouldn't spot) the police don't seem to bother to try to match the DNA to that of their suspects.
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By Blue in Washington TOP 500 REVIEWERTOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover
There's a lot to like in this Norwegian-written, fMinnesota-centered, crime story that transcends the genre into family, social history and regional pre-occupations. And, important to mention, "The Land of Dreams" is only Act 1 of a projected three-part story. With respect to the sequels, it succeeds in pulling the reader in enough to ensure a waiting audience for the coming chapters of the story.

At base, "The Land..." revolves around the brutal killing of a young Norwegian tourist/trekker who has been exploring the waterways around Lake Superior's northern shore with his closest friend. The book's protagonist is Lance Hansen, a forest policeman, who is first on the murder scene and is gradually pulled into the following investigation as a witness and local historian. Hansen, an atypical-for-the-region Norwegian-American, sees a growing link between the contemporary murder and the killing of a well-known Ojibway Indian a century before. This in turn leads him to revelations about his own family.

Not an action thriller by any means, but more like the Norwegian crime stories of Karin Fossum. Dark, translucent to opaque, it's disturbing because of its very credible revealing of human foibles and fragilities. And, in fact, the novel's well-drawn characters are very much a primary strength here.

Recommended, with the caveat that you will be buying into a continuing story.
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Format: Hardcover
I just got this book for Christmas, the gifter being from Northern Minnesota, she thought I might like it. I just read the reviews that said it was boring with unnecessary detail. I thought so, too, at first, until I began retelling it to my kids. There are a few explicit details that I euphemised or otherwise glossed over but my 15-year-old knew what I meant and the younger ones didn't need to.

What I found in retelling the story was how rich it was in atmosphere and characterisation while not seeming to be. As a mystery, which edges towards the metaphysical, there were many interesting red herrings and my kids woke up every morning wondering what had happened next in the book and adding their own theories and reasoning to who they thought "done it."

I found the history very interesting as it was sometimes just factual but oftentimes bound up with family histories of the characters. Even my kids find history interesting when there are PEOPLE in it.

Ended up really wanting to get the next book which, disappointingly does not seem to have yet been translated.

So, deceptively slow and boring but delivering a lot for phlegmatic northern types who have the patience and attention to persist!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BasingstoneBook on 20 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover
The attraction of this book was it genre and its award collection, for me this was very misleading. The story got off to a good start with the central crime described early on, however from then it turned into a history lesson on Minnesota and Lake Superior Indians. This lesson was broken with self analysis of the main character forest policeman Lance Hansen. I think the author has missed an opportunity to engage and entertain the reader, the plot is sound but is not developed, staying on a very narrow course and the book is bulked with the history and self appraisal. On a positive note the translator has used easy to read language, just a pity it was not more exciting. This book can stay low on your reading list.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 69 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
A Different Kind of Mystery 3 Oct. 2013
By Maxine McLister - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Lance Hanson is a Law Enforcement Officer for a national park in northern Minnesota on the shore of Lake Superior. When he stumbles upon the naked and dead body of a Norwegian tourist, he is thrown. Once he reports the murder, he no longer needs to be involved but he can't let it go. This is especially true when he comes across information that could incriminate a relative. The knowledge is tearing him up because he knows what he should do but knows he can't even after a man he thinks is innocent is charged.

The Land of Dreams is as much a psychological study of how our pasts and our relationships effect us as it is a murder mystery. As such, the pace tends to be rather slow and the story frequently wanders off in other directions seemingly unrelated to the crime: Hanson's family genealogy, the history of the early fur trade in the area and the Voyageurs, the influx of people of Scandinavian descent, and even some interesting details of the small towns in the area like Grand Marais and the Grand Portage Reservation. Hanson spends a great deal of time trying to solve another murder which happened over a hundred years ago which may explain something about the new murder. Personally, I found all of this as interesting as the mystery itself but I lived in Thunder Bay where the fur trade moved after Grand Portage was closed to the British at the beginning of the 19th c., I have been to Grand Marais and have eaten at Sven & Ole's and I really like history. However, I'm not sure how others who don't know the area and who don't care about history would feel about all of this. I suspect many will find it boring which is a real shame. Author Vidar Sundstol's enthusiasm and fascination with the area and its history and inhabitants shows in his writing and he makes it come to life for those willing to share his interest.

The Land of Dreams has won awards in Norway and deservedly so. It is, as I said a bit slow-paced but, if you are willing to take the time, you will find its somewhat meandering path to its ending well worth the effort. To borrow the words of the poet, it is a 'path less travelled'. It is not your usual mystery. It is intelligent with some keen observations of the human experience and psyche. The ending came as somewhat of a surprise as it seems to leave the story hanging. it may be that the real outcome is in another book (this is part of a trilogy) but even if it isn't, there's a certain rightness to this ending, sort of a Lady and the Tiger kind of thing which forces the reader to reexamine some of the question pondered throughout the book: questions of family versus justice and where our responsibility lies and do we have the right to make these kind of judgments anyway.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Bogged down in unnecessary detail... 11 Oct. 2013
By FictionFan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
When a young Norwegian man is brutally murdered on the shores of Lake Superior, his body is discovered by Lance Hansen, a US Forest Service cop. As the investigation gets underway, suspicion quickly falls on the victim's friend and companion. Lance is on the sidelines of the investigation, but realises he saw something that night that casts a different light over what may have happened. Will he put his family at risk by telling what he suspects?

The first chapter or two of this novel are very effective - Lance's discovery of the body is dramatic and chilling. However, we are very soon bogged down in a mass of local and family history, as Lance, an amateur genealogist, begins to wonder if this is the first murder committed in the area. There is an attempt to draw parallels between the current crime and an event over a century ago, when Norwegians were beginning to populate this area of Minnesota. This drags the whole book down to a crawl, as we are given endless and repetitive stories about the early days of the settlers and details of the family history of almost every character, while there is very little actual investigation of the murder. Suffice it to say that, since the investigators soon find DNA at the scene, it ought to have been possible to wrap the whole thing up fairly quickly, but for reasons unbeknownst to this reader (who suspects that the writer got himself bogged down in an inconsistency that he hoped the reader wouldn't spot) the police don't seem to bother to try to match the DNA to that of their suspects.

Between the never-ending Minnesotan history, the in-depth look at the minutiae of daily life, including what everyone eats and where they eat it, and Lance's constant agonising over whether he should put family loyalty over duty, I found this a real slog (though I could possibly set myself up in business as a tour guide of the region now). It is well enough written in a technical sense and the translation by Tiina Nunally is seamless, but I'm afraid it is simply dull. And worse yet - it's the first of a trilogy so the crime is left unresolved at the end. I'm afraid I care so little about the outcome, I will not be reading the other two books. I find it frankly amazing that this book won an award for best Norwegian crime novel of the year in 2008 - I can only assume it was a bad year...

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Brilliant and Fascinating Character Analysis 15 Oct. 2013
By Kayak Jay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel captures the environment of the North Shore of Lake Superior, and uses it to advantage in telling a gripping story. I found I couldn't put the book down as the narrative continued. The characters were realistic, and well-defined. The reader shares the anguish and suspense with the main character as the story unfolds. I was fascinated to learn much of the history of the North Shore area, and how it supported the narrative through the book. I would call it a brilliant psychological analysis of the character, supported by environment, family history, dreams and human interactions. The ending made me groan, but I knew exactly how it got there.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Plodding 18 Feb. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Perhaps it's cultural preference, but I found this book very hard to finish. "The Land of Dreams" is about a Minnesota man, Lance Hansen, who stumbles across a murder during his routine job as a "forest cop." The victim, a young Norwegian, has been camping in northern Minnesota with his best friend as a last boys' trip prior to his marriage back in Norway. As part of the investigation, a Norwegian detective arrives in the small town area to help out. The reader is lead (kind of) through the investigation of the young man's death to the conclusion.

First, the positives--This book was very, VERY obviously written by someone who has visited Minnesota. Either they've visited many times, or took meticulous notes. The places, the people, and the events are all very believable.

The negatives--I expected a mystery. There was very little of that here. Instead, the reader is mostly directed to an incredibly conflicted Lance, who, despite having found the body of the young man and his companion, has little to do with the investigation at all. In fact, the reader only occasionally gets updates on the investigation, which takes weeks and lots of...well...nothing that we know anything about because we're not part of the investigation.

In the meanwhile, we learn all about Lance's very average, divorced life. His time spent with his mother. His awkward time with his son. His ex wife and his first love. We learn about his obsession with the local history and his ancestors. And finally, we learn about his suspicions of his brother, which lead him to pathetically screw up his own self-worth.

I was sorely disappointed in the end, but not willing to consider reading the rest of the trilogy in order to satisfy my curiosity. I guess that if the upcoming books landed on my Kindle for free, I'd consider it. But I don't think I'd willingly pay for the pleasure.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Land of dreams 9 Oct. 2013
By Barbara A. North - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am not usually a reader. I was drawn to the book after seeing it in the book review section. I loved the book , the history, the mystery and the ethnicity and location. It's always fun to read about where you live or have lived. I will be looking for the second book in the trilogy. Thank You.
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