Source: Review copy
Publication: 6 October 2022 from Point Blank
My thanks to Point Blank Crime and One World for an advance copy for review
When there’s a pack on the hunt, nobody’s safe
A closed community
Rose Farm is home to a group of survivalists, completely cut off from the outside world. Until now.
A missing person
A young woman goes missing within the perimeter of the farm compound. Can Tuva talk her way inside the tight-knit group to find her story?
A frantic search
As Tuva attempts to unmask the culprit, she gains unique access to the residents. But soon she finds herself in danger of the pack turning against her – will she make her way back to safety so she can expose the truth?
From the opening with its staccato alliteration, you can feel that Tuva is brittle and tense. The aftermath of Bad Apples is still suffusing Tuva’s soul and she is drowning in grief. But her job as Deputy Editor of the Gavrik News in Northern Sweden means that she has to find a way to carry on even if she has little appetite for the day to day stories that make up the bulk of her work.
So when she comes a hunter with connections to Rose Farm, a close knit community of survivalists who guard their farm with some hefty firepower and she learns that a missing girl, Elsa Nyberg worked in the café there, Tuva throws caution to the winds and begins a mission to infiltrate this group, to get them to trust her and thus to try and find out what happened to Elsa.
There are some who see Rose Farm and its inhabitants as a cult, led by a seldom seen, mysterious figure called Abraham Viklund. Whatever the truth, this is a group of people well prepared for combat, who practice regularly with serious weapons and who are not messing around when it
Tuva begins to look for ways of inserting herself into the life of Rose farm and its inhabitants, something she does with scant attention to her own well-being. Finding out what happened to Elsa becomes like a crusade for her – a way of redeeming what went before, if only such a thing were possible.
Will Dean uses the dark and foreboding Swedish landscape to maximum effect here as the isolation of the farm and its proximity to the dangerous Snake River all add to a deepening sense of recklessness and imminent danger which builds tension and makes the reader deeply concerned for Tuva’s safety.
Tuva’s research leads her to discover that Rose Farm has a brutal and bloody history, though whether and how this is connected to Elsa’s disappearance seems unclear. As Tuva finds an innovative way to penetrate the farm’s defences, she becomes a key player in the search for information playing the role of broker between those who live and work on the farm and the Gavrik and Visberg Police who are not trusted by this cloistered community and have no way of getting information from them.
So Tuva becomes privy to information that only the police have and with no thought for her own safety, she courts the survivalists, playing to their intense need for readiness in the face of any onslaught that they may meet.
Just as Dean has populated Gavrik and Visberg with some weird and wonderful characters, so Rose Farm has its own memorable dwellers. Andreas Olsson is a giant of a man who walks around the farm laden down with a massive plank of wood around his neck. These are serious survivalists and Tuva will be called upon to demonstrate her commitment to their cause as she is tested by them in a way that once more puts her life in danger and produces one of the scariest scenes in the books so far.
Will Dean has written a heart-breaker here. This is a grief laden story and you can’t help but feel Tuva’s pain and heart aching loneliness. Her isolation, always present because of her deafness, is amplified here and it is palpable. There is warmth too, from her friendship with Tammy and her love for the Dan, the son of her next door neighbour in whom she can take some comfort. Lena, her editor is always there if she needs support and the police have confidence in her despite what happened to their colleague, Noora.
But this is a battered and heart-weary Tuva who is throwing herself in front of danger with little regard for her own safety and it is hard to see her in such despair. But she is determined that she will get justice for Elsa and her family, even if that means sacrificing herself.
Verdict: Beautifully written, this is a tense and emotional read that has depth and intensity and draws on all the great characters that make the Tuva Moodyson series so memorable as well as using the natural landscape to maximum effect. It’s a brilliant and impactful addition to this unmissable series.
Will Dean lives in the middle of a vast elk forest in Sweden, where the Tuva Moodyson novels are set. He grew up in the East Midlands. After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden and built a wooden house in a boggy clearing, where he lives with his wife and son, and it’s from this base that he reads and writes. Will Dean is the author of Dark Pines, Red Snow, Black River and Bad Apples in the Tuva Moodyson series. His debut novel in the series, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club and shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize. The second, Red Snow, won Best Independent Voice at the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020, as was his third novel, Black River. The series is in development for television. Will is also the author of two stand-alone novels, The Last Thing to Burn, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022, and First Born, both published by Hodder. Will Dean posts regularly about reading and writing on YouTube and you can find him on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.