Lead Review

  • Book: Red Snow
  • Location: Sweden
  • Author: Will Dean

Review Author: tripfiction



Red Snow is the much anticipated follow up to Will’s first novel, Dark Pines. It is set in the same small fictional town of Gavrik in the actual Värmland area of central Sweden. Many of the key characters are the same – Tuva  (the deaf reporter on the local paper), Lena (her boss), Tam (Tuva’s Vietnamese friend), David (the ghost writer who lives up in the nearby Utgard forest), Alice and Cornelia (the two troll making sisters), Viggo (the very strange taxi driver) and Thord (the policeman). So much with which we are familiar and comfortable… But that’s where the similarity between the books really ends… Dark Pines was set in summertime, with much of the action up in the forest. Red Snow is set in the depths of winter, with much of the action in the Grimberg Liquorice Factory – the town’s largest employer. The book is bleak and chillsome – and not just because of the temperature and the snow.

Gustav Grimberg, the owner of the family business, climbs the chimney of the factory and then falls to his death. It is an apparent suicide. Slightly later an employee, Per Gunnarsson, is found murdered on the premises – with two liquorice coins covering his eyes. The murderer is nicknamed the Ferryman on social media, and the name sticks. Gavrik goes into lockdown, with everyone hiding in their houses…

Meanwhile Tuva is hired (part time) by David Holmqvist to research a book he is writing about the Grimberg factory and the family itself. She wins the confidence of the Grimberg ladies (Ceci the grandmother, Anna-Britta the mother and husband of Gustav, and Karin the daughter). She uses the knowledge she gains both for David’s research and to inform her writing for the paper. She also keeps the police up to speed (if only to be with Noora, the new to the town policewoman, with whom she is having an affair…). The family is seriously challenged and dysfunctional.

The book moves to a startling conclusion and the unmasking of the Ferryman. It’s gripping but it feels, to me, just a little contrived. But that’s a very small criticism. Red Snow is a great addition to Scandi Noir – all the more so because it it written by an Englishman. But Will must be almost Swedish by now – he lives in ‘a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest’ – having built a wooden house and moved in with his family and very large cat.

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