Source: Review copy
Publication: 10 January 2019 from Point Blank
One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’sreally pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?
Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. Thehashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.
Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?
It is no exaggeration to say that this is my most highlyanticipated book of 2019. So keen was I to read the sequel to the excellentDark Pines, that I stalked it and its author at Harrogate, Bloody Scotland andevery crime festival in between. In fact, I am almost ashamed to tell you howmuch I hounded people for this book.
Almost ashamed, but not really, because Red Snow is acracker. I am so invested in the character of Tuva Moodyson that I spent somehours during a bout of insomnia considering why characters in the book wouldwant to shorten (?) her name from Tuva to Tuvs. I finally decided that this isa sign of affection, so from now on Tuva will be Tuvs to me.
As we begin Red Snow, Tuvs is preparing to move from Gavrikthe small town where winter is a freeze fest that dries the skin and makeseveryone smell, well, a little bit stronger than usual. Tuva has a new job in abigger town with a twice weekly newspaper and she’s finally going to earn alittle more money than the small paper she works for can afford. She’ll beleaving behind everyone she knows, including her best friend, Tammy, but nowthat her mother has died, she needs a new challenge, especially after her workon the Medusa murders, the case that brought her to a wider audience.
But in her last fortnight at the paper, she witnesses astartling death and finds herself in poll position to investigate.
Gavrik is suffering from blizzard conditions and Will Dean creates a menacing, chilling atmosphere, redolent with suspicion, secrecy and mistrust, made all the more striking by the fact that more deaths occur. Each death is related to the sole large employer in town, the Grimberg Liquorice Factory. . The Grimbergs are a strange family; a reclusive lot, with some members seeming more than a bit dotty and to add to the gothic atmosphere, the factory is run the way it always has been, eschewing any and all manufacturing updates of the 21st Century.
Will Dean stirs up a fabulous concoction of contemporary characters in Tuva, the wonderful Tammy and a new police officer, with his weird and wonderful cast of strange and not altogether lovable Gavrik characters in the woodcarving sisters, the creepy taxi driver and the writer with a penchant for menu items that make for more than one queasy moment.
I love that the day to day business of the small townnewspaper and its journalists is the perfect way to show how Tuva is able togrow and mature as a character as she comes to terms with her mother’s deathand considers the friendships she has made in Gavrik.
As she investigates the sticky, liquorice laden deaths, and seeks to track don the #Ferryman killer, Tammy will once again feel the force of a town that bands together when things go wrong and his complex and beautifully described narrative creates a compelling picture of a small town in fear for its future.
I can’t wait to see where Will Dean takes us next.
Verdict: With creepy snow skulls, dangerous conditions and a mad killer roaming the town, Red Snow is a perfect, hauntingly beautiful follow up to the fabulous Dark Pines.
WILL DEAN grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying at the LSE and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy forest clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.