Review: Black River, by Will Dean

Published by POINT BLANK
12 March 2020 Hardback £14.99
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 may be Midsommar in Gavrik, but this is the most chilling episode yet in the acclaimed
Scandi thriller series from British writer Will Dean.

My Review

Thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book. Thanks to Anne for organising the blog tour.

I haven’t read any of the Tuva Moodysson series until I got the chance to review this book as part of the blog tour. Having read Black River, I put an order in for Dark Pines and Red Snow.

The plot revolves around Tuva’s quest to find her best friend, Tam, who has disappeared. Slowly clues come out and Tuva is drawn to a scrap yard; Tam had an on/off relationship with the scrap yard owner, and there are some odd people living on the land. A few clues escape but everyone is still lost and it isn’t until Tuva pushes a few people in the right direction that the police finally take things seriously.

I like Tuva. She’s complex, sarcastic and incredibly endearing. Her desperation to find Tam, and her anger at the people of Gavrik for their indifference about the disappearance of her best friend, in part because Tam is of Thai ancestry, and the nasty gossip about her that people spread, is palpable. The friendship she has with Lena and Johan, and her new-found understanding of the nature of family is heartwarming.

I liked Noora too, she seems very sensible.

The setting is claustrophobic and threatening. The small town vibe and the culture of the region is a strong part of the claustrophobia. Will Dean writes very descriptively of the area’ landscapes, the culture and traditions, and the flying, biting insects.

I was not expecting the last couple of chapters, nor realised the identity of the perpetrators. I actually thought Tuva’s friend Lena might have been involved at one point.

I found this book gripping, a tense plot with unexpected perpetrators.

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.

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