Published by Point Blank, January 2018
Source: Review copy
It’s week one of the elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. Two hunters are found murdered in the forest, with their eyes missing. When Tuva Moodyson, a young deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, investigates the story that could make her career, she stumbles on a web of secrets. Are the murders connected to the unsolved Medusa killings twenty years ago? Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the
next victim? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the murderer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.
First book of the year, devoured over the course of a weekend, Dark Pines takes us deep into the immense forest of Utgard where a young reporter investigates the death of a hunter. Could it be connected to the infamous ‘Medusa murders’ of twenty years ago?
Regular readers will be aware that I love a book which has a real sense of place, and Dark Pines is just such a book. The pines of Utgard are superbly creepy, with a tangible sense of menace made all the scarier by its inhabitants. They’re a wonderfully odd bunch – the ghostwriter with a fascination for Tuva Moodyson’s deafness, the slightly (very) odd twins and their wooden trolls. The story follows Tuva as she investigates first one murder, and then another, drawing her deep into the forest. It’s not just the forest though – Gavrik is one of those small town, tightly-knit communities where everyone knows everyone else, but everyone seems to have a secret. Can Tuva get to the bottom of the killings?
Tuva Moodyson is an interesting character – her deafness plays a key part in the story, but never feels forced or gimmicky for the sake of plot. She has a rugged determination in pursuit of the story which will give her a future outside Gavrik – I really liked her, and hope we get to see more of her investigations in the future. She’s just one of a set of great characters though, and the plot is artfully crafted, with the suspense ratcheting up notch by notch. Tuva’s fear of the forest is tangible – forests can be creepy at the best of times, but imagine a forest where you are unable to hear anything, knowing that there is someone out there with a rifle who could very well be taking aim right now.
Dark Pines is a splendid Noir, beautifully written and unsettling. Will Dean has come up with a brilliant character in Tuva Moodyson, and I’d love to see her again.
Dark Pines is published by @PtBlankBks and is out now. You can find Will Dean on twitter @Willrdean