Dark Pines (2017) by Will Dean

Tuva Moodyson is a reporter in the isolated Icelandic town of Gavrik. Determined to be the best reporter she can be, before she leaves the town. She only returned to look after her ailing mother, but now the biggest story of her career has landed in her lap. Twenty years or so ago, three bodies were found, victims of the Medusa killer, who were shot from distance before their eyes were gouged out. The killer abruptly stopped but it seems they – or a copycat – has returned when a fresh body in the same state is found.

With the police seemingly making no progress, Tuva is determined to find the killer and make her name – only it seems that the killer has their eye on Tuva as well…

Always try something new – well, every now and then. Will Dean is an author that I follow on Twitter, partly because he’s got a gorgeous St Bernard, but also because he’s an author I’ve been meaning to try for a while. I’m not particularly a fan of Scandi-noir or whatever it’s called these days, but his books always seem up for prizes, and everyone was raving about his most recent, The Last Thing To Burn. After reading the synopsis for that one, it seemed a tad too dark for me so I went to this, the start of the Tuva Moodyson series.

So what did I think of it? Well, I really enjoyed the character of Tuva – the depiction of a deaf lead character added a layer to her and while her day to day life was a tad depressing, it is depicted in a way that doesn’t make it depressing to read about, which was an impressive feat, I thought. The town of Gavrik is an interesting place too.

However, as a mystery, it seemed to me like a game of “Pin The Tail On The Murderer” where the murderer was twice the size of the other characters, and it ticks one of the biggest boxes on my “Things That Annoy Me” Bingo Card, namely realising who the killer is due to the fact that they are currently trying to kill you. It is perhaps unfair to criticise a thriller as not being a fair-play mystery, but it hasn’t stopped me before, especially when the book is presented as a whodunnit of sorts.

I’ll be honest, I can see why people like this series – I liked the setting, the lead character and the style of writing a lot – but the plot never really grabbed me. Plenty of other people like the series (and Scandi-noir in general) though – this has 76% 4* or above reviews on Amazon, so what do I know?

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