Review: The Quarry – Johan Theorin

quarryI am going to keep this review shorter than usual because I am working on a couple of larger projects at the moment and am not writing much this week – normal service will be resumed in a few days time.

I seem to be having a binge on Scandi-crime novels this month – The Quarry is my third this year and I think it’s something to do with living in the dark days of January and feeling a touch of sympathy with those poor Swedes and Norwegians who won’t be seeing warmer weather for some time yet.

I’ve tried at least to limit my crime-binge to writers I’ve not read before such as Jan Costin Wagner, Håkan Nesser and now Johan Theorin, three authors whose books try to push the boundaries further than the average crime novel, and who have all won prizes for their work (Theorin won the Crime Writer’s Association’s International Dagger Award in 2010 for his previous book, The Darkest Room).

Theorin’s books form a quartet of novels based on the island of Öland in the Baltic Sea.  Theorin has had long familiarity with Öland having been a regular visitor there from childhood and coming from a family whose antecedents lived their for centuries as sailors, fishermen and farmers. The island is noted for it’s strange folklore involving trolls and ljusalfer (a sort of elf – see the excellent Wikipedia article on Scandinavian folklore).

In The Quarry, we read of Per Morner, a divorced father of two teenagers who has taken over an old wooden house on Öland and has decided to live there for the summer while he carries on his work as a telephone pollster.  Morner has two difficult situations to cope with; his daughter Nilla is in hospital undergoing investigations into a potentially dangerous medical condition.  In addition to this, his elderly father Jerry has had a stroke and is no longer coping on his own – to make things more complicated, his father is a renowned pornographer whose life has been dominated by dubious business transactions and affairs with porn-stars.

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