Hakan Nesser has been referred to as one of Sweden’s best crime writers, so I was intrigued to read his new novel, The Darkest Day. It’s a compelling and disturbing read, and quite unlike anything else I have read before in this genre.
Karl-Erik is celebrating his landmark 65th birthday on the same day his daughter Ebba is celebrating her 40th birthday. The immediate and extended family gather to celebrate in the quiet Swedish town of Kymlinge in December. From the opening pages it’s clear that some people in the family are very unhappy, and although people try to put on a festive face, there are many things simmering under the surface. Karl-Erik’s wife, Rosemarie, is having strange dreams where she must choose between killing her overbearing husband or killing herself. Meanwhile, her son Robert is at a very low ebb after a disastrous stint on a reality TV show, shaming not just himself but the entire family. Ebba is worried about her eldest son Henrik, clearly the favourite son, who doesn’t seem to be himself. Sister Kristina doesn’t seem to be quite herself either, and alcohol and late-night revelations create a situation that couldn’t have been foreseen.
Before the weekend is over, not one, but two members of the family are missing. Inspector Barbarotti is called on to solve the cases, but to determine what has gone on he needs to unravel the family secrets in the process. What happens on that darkest day is what consumes the reader until the final pages.
The characters in this novel are exceptionally well-written, even when we get inside individual minds and see their most disturbing thoughts. I thought The Darkest Day was very well done,
and I would definitely read more books by this accomplished and highly original author.
Macmillan, RRP $37.99