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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Echoes from the Dead: Oland Quartet series 1
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on 26 March 2017
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on 23 July 2011
If you live life in the fast last then Johan Theorin is probably not your author - the lead character is an old retired man - Gerlof (pronounced "Yairloff")- and he expresses what I think encapsulates Theorin's luxurious style of story-telling: "I think it's best to tell stories at their own pace. Before, people always took their time over telling stories, but now everything has to be done so quickly" (P.214) - so if you want to take your time over a story then you will love this style of writing (then, I am retired also!)
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on 17 October 2011
Another Scandinavian crime story but there's no grumpy detective in this one, instead Theorin has made the Swedish island of Oland the star of his story. It's an atmospheric read which makes great use of the location of this out-of-season holiday island where Jens, a small boy has disappeared without trace twenty years ago. A new clue suddenly comes to light so Julia, his lonely depressed mother, and her aged father, Gerlof, attempt to solve the mystery of what has become of him. The story of their investigations is combined with the history of Nils Kant, the local psychopath, who may or may not have been alive and on Oland at the time of Jens' disapperance.
This is generally a well-paced thriller although the characterisation was a bit light and it could have done with a bit more editing as about half-way through I began to lose interest slightly. But I'm glad I persevered as the story builds to a good climax and the mystery is satisfyingly resolved. Overall, a promising first book by Theorin and I hope to read his other novels set on Oland.
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on 9 August 2016
what a pointless book, how boring it was! so this lady, Julia, has been drinking and waiting for 20 years to get back to her home-island to start looking for her missing child? just because her father thought it was time to reconsider and do something about it? sorry, did not like it.....
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on 4 May 2011
An original gripping thriller.

In the early 1970s a young boy called Jens disappears from a remote Swedish island. Fast forward twenty years and his mother, Julia and his grandfather, Gerlof, are attempting to unravel the mystery of what happened to Jens.

I have to admit I did not like the first couple of chapters of this book, I couldn't settle into the story and I found myself putting it down and having to come back to it hours later. However I am glad I stuck with it as once I did get into it I became hooked and was unable to put the novel down.

The structure of this novel suited the story it was portraying. All the chapters were relatively short and told through different prospectives which added a lot of depth to the novel.

The characters within this novel have been extremely well thought out and everyone has a purpose within the novel. I could vividly see the characters within my mind as the story was being played out.

I recommend this book to anyone who love to read a great thriller, you will not be disappointed.

A copy of this novel was received from transworld publishers, all opinions are my own through reading this book.
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on 14 October 2017
Good Book
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on 9 March 2011
This starts off with the events of twenty years ago, when a boy went missing, and gives you just enough information to make you think you know what happened. Then it cuts to the present day and with the amateur detective work of the main characters, combined with a series of flashbacks, you gradually find out the real story of what happened that day and what lead up to it.

The action was mostly set on an island just off the Swedish mainland and it was very well described. It was easy to visualise the characters going about their business. The island sounded at times beautiful and picturesque and then sometimes harsh and menacing.

I liked the way you were constantly given just enough information to keep you interested and to keep you guessing. I'd like to say that I thought I knew who the bad guy was halfway through the book, but as I'm pretty sure that I suspected every single character at one point or another, that's not much of an achievement. In the end, I was pretty surprised by how it turned out, which is just how I like it.
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on 1 February 2010
This book really grips from the very beginning.

It is about an old unsolved missing child case that is resurrected when the grandfather of the missing child receives a small sandal in the post. Thus begins a very addictive story which also embraces an intertwined mystery about the fate of a local character who could conceivably be responsible for abducting his young grandson.

Definitely a five star read for this genre.
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on 25 April 2015
I came to this book via a mention on the Euro Crime book blog ( http://www.eurocrime.co.uk ) where it was highly recommended ( “ if you read one crime-fiction novel published this year, make it this one “ ).

I'm not convinced it is that good, but it is certainly well-written ( and since I am reading the English translation, also very well translated into British English ) plus well-plotted, carefully constructed, and unfolds its double-plot perfectly.

The author's postscript giving a few details on his fictional realisation of the actual island of Öland, gives a good idea of the genesis of the novel, and reveals that , best of all, it should be viewed as a tale told at twilight, just as used to happen in past times.

Fitting really, since it is a story that relies much more on people and their motives, rather than having an emphasis on clever detection and police procedures : much more about the why of things than the how.

Not that the “how” is missing, just that it isn't overly important to the story.

Since it is set on an island, the characters are few and inter-related, which adds to the neatness of the plot.

I have to admit there were enough clues to piece together some of the crime, but it wasn't until the last pages that the final clue gave an attentive reader the criminal on a plate ( although the "why" came a little later).

The story was easy to read ,and had more than enough descriptive passages to conjure am image and feeling of Öland. Characters well-drawn, and if minor characters, just sketched enough for belief.

It was a very satisfying read, and like the solution of the the crime itself, and the deliverance of the main character, Julia, it reached ' a kind of conclusion'.

If I had listened to this told on an Autumn evening at twilight, I would have been gripped by the tale and satisfied by the result.

There's not much more that can be said : read and enjoy..
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on 24 February 2011
The book has the obligatory attempt to link the author to Stieg Larsson. No one should be fooled by this; Theorin is a much better writer than Larsson and this book is much better than the Millenium series.

First, a little on `translation'. I like reading translations. For me, the best translations will be good English and will convey the story as the author intended but will have just a hint of strangeness, something that also conveys a sense of the land and culture of the author. The perfect examples are the Russian translations of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, such as Crime and Punishment, The Master and Margarita. Marlaine Delargy has taken the approach of providing a perfect English translation of Theorin's Swedish, leaving it to him to provide the local feel. And this, Theorin provides in abundance.

The bulk of the story is set on the island of Öland, just off the mainland of Sweden and linked to it at Kalmar. And this place provides its intellectual heart. The Öland of the novel is not wholly the real life one; place names have been altered, presumably to protect the innocent! But the landscape is real. In a series of appendices, Theorin describes it and his enduring passion for the island. The most significant aspect of the landscape is the `alvar` base, known also as a limestone pavement, whereby a thin layer of vegetation barely manages to survive on the limestone strata. This aspect also forms the symbolic base of the novel. Each character in the novel seems to be living their own thin existence, a veneer of life over some rocky base of horror from the past.

In the case of Julia and her father, this horror was the disappearance of Julia's young son, some twenty years earlier. Most people feel that he wandered from his grandparents' house and into the sea but Julia cannot accept that. She still talks to him and believes that he is waiting on the island for her to come and find him. his obsession and refusal to get on with life has led to her separation from the boy's father and alienation from her father. But her father calls her back to the island. Someone has sent him a small shoe, one that the boy was wearing when he disappeared.

Julia and her father's hunt for the truth about what happened exposes more and more secrets. Others are drawn into the search. As it continues, Julia begins to accept that her son is dead but she still wants to know how and why and where his body lies. The most serious complication to the search is the story of a misfit psychopath from a local wealthy family who escaped to South America after killing a policeman just after the second world war. Locals believed that he had returned and was responsible for all manner of crimes that had occurred since. Julia's father is convinced that he had something to do with the boy's disappearance. As the searching builds to its climax, both Julia and her father learn more about themselves and their neighbours and all the disparate strands of the novel come together in a believable conclusion.

Echoes from the Dead is no simple crime story. The characters are deep and complex and the resolution of the mystery at the heart of the novel depends on each character exposing the bedrock of their own existence. Theorin has crafted an atmospheric and gripping tale and I look forward to reading his later works. This book is highly recommended.
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