The Silver Road by Stina Jackson
I had slightly mixed emotions about this story. On the one hand the description and atmosphere created were excellent, but on the downside, there was perhaps a little too much time dwelling on the backstory.
The long hours of summer sunlight in the north of Sweden are relentless, in a land of forests, lakes and empty wilderness. In this landscape we find Lelle, whose daughter vanished three years before. The agonized father has been driving the silver road, stopping at every deserted farm, looking everywhere for Lina. He is angry and alone, sleep deprived and obsessive, chain smoking and living on coffee. His life is a mess, his home is filthy and he has lost all pride in his appearance. We understand all that pretty quickly, and given the amount of time that has passed since Lina failed to make it onto a bus one night, we understand how bad things must be for Lelle. The only weakness of the story for me was how long this was drawn out, before the rest of the story gradually begins.
Lelle has been searching obsessively for years. He has pursued everyone that could be a suspect, followed countless leads, dead ends, deserted roads and searched every abandoned house and barn. The long hours of sunlight keep him awake and his car is full of cigarette ash and old coffee cups. He obsessively watches Lina’s ex-boyfriend, stalking him to the extent that he always feels watched. He has no regard for his own safety, but simply wants to get his daughter back.
Another thread, where Meja and her alcoholic mother arrive in the small northern town, helps to divert us, and throws up a list of new suspects. Maja’s mother has moved in with an older man who has a dubious past. When another local girl disappears, we begin to fear for Meja’s safety too.
When the action does eventually step up a gear, there is a huge rush of activity to bring everything to a conclusion. There are a few clues which the observant reader should spot along the way, but the manner in which things unfold will surprise everyone.
Overall, great atmosphere and setting, but overlong on getting to the point where the story fires up and the real action begins.
Reviewer: Marcus Hobson
Corvus Books, RRP $32.99