Black River by Will Dean #BookReview #BlogTour

Tuva has been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy has gone missing. 

Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts? 

Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. But who will be there to save Tuva? 

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Black River today. Huge thanks to Will Dean, Point Blank and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

It's so good to be back in the strange little town of Gavrik  - although Tuva Moodyson wouldn't agree. At the end of the previous book, Red Snow she left, headed for a new job in the south but though she had no plans to return, one phone call changes all that.
Although Tuva always felt an outsider in Gavrik, she did have a small group of friends, most notably her best friend, Tammy. So when her former boss, Lena calls to say that Tammy is missing, she doesn't hesitate and immediately sets off on the long drive north. Her reaction to the news exemplifies the sort of person Tuva is. She doesn't plan or make any preparations for her trip back to Gavrik, she just drives through the night, with only wine gums and Coca-Cola for sustenance. There were several references to her heavy drinking in Red Snow but though she has been sober for four months, her lifestyle could never be described as healthy and in her desperation to find Tammy, she punishes herself physically and mentally throughout the book.
The novel's first person perspective works particularly well with a complex character like Tuva Moodyson  and as well as her immediate reactions in the search for her friend, I thought the memories of her parents - especially her father - give a fascinating insight into her past and help explain why it's more than just her deafness which means she is one of life's outsiders. She is naturally drawn to others who don't quite fit in which means that she is acutely tuned in to the prejudice and racism in Gavrik. This becomes most evident when a second woman disappears, with the comparative response of the townsfolk markedly different. Tammy is Swedish but her parents were from Thailand and she is still viewed as a foreigner, In a place where even strawberries are valued more highly for being Swedish, it's heartbreaking for Tuva to see the contrast between her best friend's disappearance and that of the young woman considered to be a true Swede.
One of the highlights of this series has been the singular nature of the residents of Gavrik and the Twin Peaks feel to the place continues here with the introduction of the strange settlement at the Snake River salvage yard. The troll making sisters have a rival in the creepy crafting stakes here with Sally 'The Breeder' Sandberg. Anybody with a snake phobia may need to read some of this scenes through their fingers... As always, Tuva's dry wit brings the town's stranger residents vividly to life; shoe-fitter Freddy is described as having a giant toddler head and young Viktor's wide-set eyes give him the appearance of a hammerhead shark.
It's not just the townspeople who are rendered so vibrantly, however and throughout the book I loved the way in which the sense of place is realised so effectively. Her status as a Swede who feels an outsider is strikingly obvious in her brilliant recounting of how the Swedish Midsommer celebrations are a very different affair to the more refined British maypole dancing,
'We now erect in June and it's not all pretty ribbons and Cotswolds cream teas. Hell, no. Later this evening most of Sweden will be drunk on aquavit, and grown men will be hopping around our cock-shaped poles pretending to be frogs.'
Scandinavian thrillers are most often associated with the cold, dark days of winter but it's summer in Black River meaning the days are long and light. True to form, Tuva complains just as much about this season and to be honest, it's easy to see why. Despite living in a country famed for its outdoor lifestyle, Tuva isn't fond of nature; her return to the oppressive Utgard Forest and her visits to sinister Snake River are often eerily reminiscent of the humid, insect-infested Deep South setting of Deliverance; there are moments where Black River could perhaps be described as Scandi Noir meets Southern Gothic.
Will Dean hasn't written a fast-paced thriller here, instead allowing the unsettling sense that is a place where anybody could be hiding dark and disturbing secrets to take hold of the reader until the tension becomes almost unbearable and the revelations are more terrible than anybody could possibly guess. It can be read as a standalone but to truly appreciate this bizarre, twisted town which seems to have a hold over Tuva, no matter how much she thinks she wants to escape then I would recommend reading the previous books first. Black River - where darkness is  found even in the light and perhaps nobody can be trusted - is an outstanding novel and the best yet in this always excellent series. Very highly recommended.

Black River is published by Point Blank, publishing links can be found here or please consider buying from your local independent bookstore by ordering directly or supporting through Hive.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

WILL DEAN grew up in the East Midlands and had lived in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden, where he built a house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest. His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize and named a Telegraph book of the year. The second book in the series, Red Snow, is now out in paperback.
Twitter  Instagram  YouTube


Post a Comment