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Cecilia Ekbäck’s new novel, In The Month of the Midnight Sun, is out this month, so I thought in preparation I would go back to her excellent debut crime novel. I don’t read a lot of Scandi noir, but she’s good. More on the new one soon.

wolf winterThe chills – both mental and physical – settle in quickly in this Swedish gothic, right from the dedication page: “For the women in my family who don’t sleep”.

Women are the heart of this tale, set in a brutal winter in Lapland in 1717. Christianity is in force, supported by the Swedish king, but it is clear the ancient pagan beliefs still bubble away in dark corners.

Maija and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive at their remote northern farm on the side of Blackasen Mountain, with just a short summer ahead to prepare for what is always a long, dark and bitter winter.

Around them is a sparse collection of farms, and the seasonal presence of the Lapp nomads with their reindeer, goats and mysticism.

Frederika, 14, finds a body in the woods, cut from neck to groin, the intestines spilled onto the ground. It’s not the first death or disappearance in the area; Blackasen has a reputation for evil deeds.

The local priest is ordered to find out what happened and he co-opts Maija to help dig through a community of secrets, while Frederika is drawn ever deeper into powerful other-worldly forces that terrify her.

It’s an icy cold and atmospheric debut from the Swedish writer, who has put together an engaging blend of history, noir, crime and supernatural. CH

This book was published  in 2014. My review was originally published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine.

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