Book Review: Dark Pines by Will Dean (Tuva Moodyson Mystery 1)

Dark Pines by Will Dean

Title: Dark Pines
Author: Will Dean
Publication Date: 7 December 2017 (ebook) 14 June 2018 (paperback)
Twitter: @willrdean
For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, a brand new debut crime writer introduces a Scandi-noir Tuva Moodyson Mystery
Eyes missing, two bodies lie deep in the forest near a remote Swedish town.
Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.
A web of secrets. And an unsolved murder from twenty years ago.
Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the final victim? She’d like to think so. But first she must face her demons and venture far into the deep, dark woods if she wants to stand any chance of getting the hell out of small-time Gavrik.
Set in a rural Swedish forest, Dark Pines is the creepy debut thriller by British author, Will Dean.
The story follows local reporter, Tuva Moodyson, as she investigates the gruesome discovery of two bodies both found brutally murdered in a way that is reminiscent of the unsolved ‘Medusa’ murders from 20 years earlier. Is this merely a coincidence or do the recent murders hold secrets about those earlier crimes?  Tuva finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the investigation. With a career-making case landing on her desk, she has to face her demons as she follows the story into the forest. This may finally be her route out of Gavrik.  
The remote Utgard forest proves to be a claustrophobic and disturbing setting for the tale, and the small isolated town of Gavrik provides very little relief from that oppressive and suffocating feeling that surfaces each time Tuva heads back down the icy tracks into the forest.
The author has created a curious and creepy cast of local characters, giving an unnerving feel to the story. In particular, the two elderly woodcutting sisters who hand carve wooden trolls decorated with human hair and nails – it makes me shudder just thinking about it!
The protagonist, Tuva, is a fascinating and engaging character. Deaf, bi-sexual and awkward, she is also loyal, determined and brave.  A townie through and through, Tuva has exiled herself to the Swedish wilderness to be nearer to her dying mother. Tuva’s disability is dealt with in a sensitive and realistic way by the author (I have some awareness of deafness through a close family member and I am aware that the author uses a beta-reader with hearing difficulties to ensure that this part of the character is told as authentically as possible). For me, this makes the story all the more convincing.
The story is well-planned and well-written, advancing forward at a good pace. The tension builds quickly and relentlessly as the tale progresses and the twists and turns are revealed, before culminates in a nail-biting and satisfying climax.
For his debut novel, Dean has produced a riveting, tense and atmospheric thriller. Dark Pines is a fantastic book and one of the best crime thrillers I’ve read for a long time. I would highly recommend, particularly to fans of crime fiction and Nordic/Scandi Noir.

Huge thanks to Margot Weale at Oneworld Publications for providing me with a copy of Dark Pines for review.
About the Author
Will Dean, author
Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying law at the LSE, and working many varied jobs in London, he settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy forest clearing and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.


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