Sunday, February 11, 2024

Under the Storm

Under the Storm by Christoffer Carlsson
2/27/24; 416 pages

Random House

Under the Storm by Christoffer Carlsson is a highly recommended Nordic noir procedural with excellent character development. It is translated from the original Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.

In the rural community of Marbäck, Sweden on November, 1994, a farmhouse burns down with a young woman, Lovisa, inside. The autopsy reveals she was murdered before the fire was purposefully set. The investigation focuses on her boyfriend, Edvard Christensson, after officer Vidar Jörgensson finds evidence and Edvard passed out nearby. The overwhelming opinion is that Edvard is a Christensson and violent just like his father. Edvard's nephew, seven-year-old Isak Nyqvist, who loves his uncle, cannot believe he did it, but Edvard is found guilty and sent to prison, so it must be true. This fact leaves Isak feeling like he is cursed by the same bloodlines and doomed to be violent.

Police officer Vidar is initially proud of his role in the case, but later begins to have doubts over Edvard's guilt and secretly begins to investigate the crime again. Meanwhile, Isak feels his life is preordained and that Vidar is always watching him, looking for Isak's guilt in one thing or another.

The novel is broken into three parts. The first part opens in November 1994 into 1995, and follows the original investigation and the beginning of Isak's doubts about himself. The second is 9 years later, in 2004 and follows Vidar's questioning the original investigating as he quietly reexamines the case. This time period leads up to when Hurricane Gudrun slams into Sweden. Isak is just turning eighteen and still believe genetics have doomed him to be violent, like his uncle, like his grandfather.  The third is set in 2017, twelve years later, when the truth is finally revealed.

The novel shines in the character development and psychological insight into the characters of Isak and Vidar. Both characters are fully realized. They struggle with relationships and doubts. The case impacts and has consequences in both of their lives. Isak's story is especially heartbreaking.

Under the Storm does take a very measured pace in both the plot and the action. This makes it a slow-moving novel, however this deliberate pace leaves room for the atmospheric descriptions, psychological insights, and the development of the characters to take the forefront as the whole story progresses thoughtfully to a satisfying conclusion. Thanks to Random House for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

No comments: