Dogears: Alien Psychiatry
Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for a Swedish husband and wife writing team: Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril. The Fire Witness is the third book about Chief Inspector Joona Linna as he figures out a tricky murder only he can solve.
I love The Hypnotist and The Nightmare so much and this book is just as enjoyable. What Lars Kepler does so well is create complete, complex, and flawed characters who are engaging to read, as well as turns you don’t expect. Clocking at almost 500 pages, the pacing is wonderful and can be devoured in a matter of days. It’s a Scandinavian noir along the lines of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but with a creepier twist. I strongly recommend it to everyone.
The paperback comes out June 24th, 2014.
The subtitle of this book is “a ghost story” and that is truly what the author delivers in this horror novel about how sins of the past can come back to haunt us. The real star of this novel is the environment; Sigurdardottir is Icelandic and she presents a vivid picture of the isolated villages and quiet communities of the rural western coast of Iceland. The story opens with three friends arriving at an isolated cove by boat to renovate a run-down summer house in the hopes of renting it out to tourists. Unfortunately this means they’re stranded in the dark Icelandic winter, surrounded by snow, with no way to get out of the cove if things start to go wrong. And, oh, do they go wrong. This storyline reads like a very satisfying horror movie you watch with your friends, full of creepy dread and danger as you shout how stupid the characters are at the screen.
In a nearby town, a psychiatrist begins receiving strange cases that, unlikely though it may be, seem connected to the disappearance of his son several years ago. Eventually the storylines intertwine and, truthfully, the ending is much less interesting than what has lead up to it. Some of the character beats feel wrong, and this sullies what would otherwise be a terrifying conclusion. But the ending doesn’t spoil the whole book, and as a whole I’ll Remember You is an atmospheric effective horror novel with an amazing sense of place. Now I know that if ever I visit Iceland, I’ll stick to summertime and the well-traveled places, lest ghosts get me.
I can never guarantee that I’ll enjoy a book but there are certain elements that make it more likely. One is if the story is set in space, and another is if it is written in absolutely stunning prose. For an expert example of both read Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci. Despite its petite size Tin Star managed to pack a complex and emotional story in between its covers. This is possible because Castellucci knows how to make the best of every word. There is no fluff or filler to be found. It is simply the story of one human girl – Tula – trying to survive on an alien satellite after being marooned there by her own kind. Castellucci proves that you don’t have to be overly verbose to communicate the fear, the desperation, and the determination her character feels.
What makes this book truly brilliant is that she writes so succinctly without sacrificing her literary voice. Her phrases are breathtaking and worthy of taking the time to re-read. This more poetic style may not be ideal for those looking for a fast-paced, sci-fi adventure but for me it was perfect. Instead of racing to the end, the reader is given more time to reflect on what’s truly at stake for Tula and the others who cling to the satellite, way out in a forgotten corner of space, alongside her. It’s easy to get attached to the characters in this novel and I look forward to continuing their story in the next installment, A Stone in the Sky.