Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review of The Quarry by Johan Theorin (Doubleday, 2011)

As the winter snow and frost starts to melt on the island of Öland off the Swedish coast, life starts to return to the landscape. The elderly Gerlof Davidsson signs himself out of a nursing home and returns to his cottage to read his dead wife’s diaries. Max Larsson, a celebrity self-help guru, and his wife Vendela move into a new, large mansion only a short distance from where Vendela grew up in poverty. Divorcee Per Morner moves into the cottage he inherited on the edge of a quarry with his twins, one of whom is very ill. Not long after he moves in, Per is contacted by his estranged father, a celebrity pornographer who he rarely meets. Jerry has been attacked with a knife in a remote film studio. Per arrives to find the studio on fire. He pulls his father free, but two others perish in the attack, one of whom his father insists is still alive. Within a few days his father is dead in suspicious circumstances. As Per starts to investigates, he seems to be drawing danger towards himself.

It took me quite a while to get into The Quarry. The story is quite layered and is reasonably well structured, intertwining the lives and histories of a small group of people. The strengths of the book are the characterisation, which was pretty solid, and the sense of place relating to the island and its history and myths. Whilst the plot worked okay in its own terms, I simply didn’t believe the police investigation into the fire and the subsequent death of Jerry. The police barely engaged with Per and Jerry, and seemed totally unconcerned when Jerry dies, apparently making no efforts to track down his killer. There were also some passages that I found didn’t ring true. A slow boiler of a read, which got better as it went on, but for me at least didn’t quite live up to the five star reviews I’ve seen elsewhere.

1 comment:

Dorte H said...

I am almost relieved to see someone who agrees with me. I enjoyed Theorin´s first books immensely, but this one also struck me as *too* slow. And I didn´t just find the reaction of the police odd; Per´s reaction to his daughter´s problems was also unconvincing (or if we are to believe a father would react like this, rather off-putting).