Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin set in Oland, Sweden starts when Jens Davidsson, a 6 year old boy goes missing on a foggy day. Years later his grandfather a retired sea captain receives a shoe, a shoe which Jens was wearing on the day he disappeared. He then, along with his daughter, sets off to find out what really happened on that day, and what became of his grandson.
Now, how many times do we come across a crime thriller which, literally, has a twist in its last page? It’s far and rare. And in today’s world of deceitful blurbs and dubious ways of giving away awards for crime writing, it has become much more difficult to come across a book which actually provides a roller coaster ride, all wrapped up in the garb of a run-of-the-mill plot, filled with oh-so-clichéd and drab characters, nothing exotic but believable. Johan Theorin provided us a book which had all the above points. Potent enough to make a crime reader like me suspect, that I am yet again stuck with a book which while calling itself a crime novel would present me with a bouquet of descriptions and scenes of the locale, the deep psychology of the characters, long paragraphs filled with over the top lines, and very little crime and thrill. I was properly and thoroughly hoodwinked.
The book begins with all the above mentioned shortfalls, and as one continues, it appears that though not as bleak like some fellow award winners, this book might just fall flat. But, something stops the reader from putting down the book. Be it the characters. The woman with a missing child, the elderly grandfather settled in an old age home, with a mission to find out the truth. The narrative, which jumps between the present day, and past, talking about a man who gets perceived as a villain, yet something about that man seems to not fit the bill as a villain. All these discrepancies within the over-tested formula of exotic locale, and the super tragic crime of a missing child, kept me interested. I ploughed on, and the book as it progressed, picked up speed. Though not much was happening, clues weren’t getting discovered, nor were people turning up dead by numbers. Yet, the local characters started revealing some odd bits. And when the ending came, I thought that was the best it could have been, only to be presented with a twist in the last page.
Surely one of the most entertaining and suspenseful crime novels I have read in recent time. Standalone thrillers if not treated right gets boring. But, it seems Theorin knew his job, and in the process created a book, which was worthy of all the Awards heaped upon it.