One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?
Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man's eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.
Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?
I'm absolutely delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Red Snow by Will Dean today. Many thanks to the author, publishers, Point Blank and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.
Having waited far too long to read the first Tuva Moodyson book, Dark Pines, I was delighted that I could jump straight into Red Snow but for those of you still eagerly anticipating the sequel, I can assure you that it is well worth the wait.
All the elements that made Dark Pines such a vividly atmospheric read are still here as Tuva's final days in Gavrik before she leaves for a new job in the south become thoroughly chilling - in more ways than one - when two more deaths shock a town still reeling from the Medusa case only a few months previously. It's worth saying here that while Red Snow can be enjoyed as a standalone, I'd recommend that if you want to read Dark Pines it's preferable to read the books in order both to avoid any spoilers and also to truly appreciate Tuva's character progression over the course of the series so far. It has to be said that she isn't in a particularly good place in this book and if anything is taking even worse care of herself than she was in Dark Pines. She still has to come to terms with the guilt she feels about her mother and the heavy drinking that was mostly hinted at in the previous novel is shown more clearly here with the troubled journalist often seeking solace in a bottle of rum. Despite her problems, she remains a thoroughly likeable character who finds herself in the midst of an investigation into two sudden deaths after a chance encounter with a stranded driver and her subsequent act of kindness results in her witnessing what appears to be a tragic suicide.
The steady pacing of Red Snow allows the story to unfold in detail as Tuva gradually learns more about the complex relationship between the town of Gavrik and its largest employer, the Grimberg Liquorice factory. When a second body is found within its walls and she discovers the tragic past of the supposedly privileged Grimberg family, it begins to look as if they are cursed but are the two deaths connected or just an unhappy coincidence? As before it is the character development that makes Will Dean's writing so immersive; Red Snow sees the return of many of the town's residents who made such an impact in Dark Pines but also introduces some intriguing new characters including a rather curmudgeonly janitor and three generations of women from the Grimberg family. They are decidedly dysfunctional and have enough skeletons in their cupboards to fill several books but there is also something rather poignant about this strangely superstitious, weird little family. Tuva strikes up a particularly close bond with the grandmother, Cici, an indomitable woman whose flamboyant nature is her way of coping with the many tragedies which have befallen the family. Meanwhile, granddaughter, Karin is equally as fascinating albeit a rather more fragile figure who is terrified of the burden that has been placed on Anna-Britta, her recently bereaved mother. What is abundantly clear is that they are all weighed down with the sense of duty which has been imposed upon them as employers and their grand house is more of a prison than a home.
This sense of claustrophobia runs throughout Red Snow with the harsh Swedish weather providing a darkly oppressive backdrop to the story. The bitter conditions mean even the most straightforward tasks become more onerous and the residents of this largely isolated town must be ever vigilant of the dangers that come with the sub-zero temperatures, ice and snow. On a happier note, Tuva finds some warmth through a newcomer to the town and it's really quite touching to see her tentative steps towards a relationship. There's a moment in the book where it is remarked that four years ago her colleague, Lars was concerned that locals may feel alienated by the arrival of this young, deaf, bisexual woman but both readers and the townsfolk have learned that those aspects are just a part of who she is. Her deafness presents both challenges and advantages to her investigative work without ever becoming the only thing that defines her and it's plain that while she'll always be somewhat of an outsider in Gavrik, she also begins to realise that she's been accepted and supported by many of its residents in her time there.
I thought Dark Pines was a gripping debut but in Red Snow, Will Dean has really honed his writing skills to produce a sequel which I think is even better than its predecessor. This is a beautifully crafted and engrossing novel which drew me in from the very first page and kept me riveted until the startling and intense finale. I'm fascinated to see what new challenges await Tuva as she embarks on the next chapter of her life - although I've just realised I now have a while before I can read the next book. I have no doubt at all that it will be well worth the wait!
Red Snow will be published by Point Blank on 10th January 2019 and can be pre-ordered here:
Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.
WILL DEAN grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying at the LSE and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy forest clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.