Friday 4 February 2022

Book Review: We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal

We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal book cover

AD* | It’s been more than twenty years since Olof Hagström left home. Returning to his family’s house, he knows instantly that something is amiss. The front door key, hidden under a familiar stone, is still there. Inside, there’s a panicked dog, a terrible stench, water pooling on the floor. Upstairs in the shower, the father Olaf has not seen or spoken to in decades is dead.

For police detective Eira Sjödin, the investigation of this suspicious death resurrects long-forgotten nightmares. She was only nine when Olof Hagström, then fourteen, was found guilty of raping and murdering a local girl. The case left a mark on the town’s collective memory - a wound that never quite healed - and tinged Eira’s childhood with fear. Too young to be sentenced, Olof was sent to a youth home and exiled from his family. He was never seen in the town again. Until now. 

Richly atmospheric and deeply evocative, We Know You Remember is a brand new classic of the noir genre. 

This Swedish crime novel is set in the country's remote, rural backwaters. It's filled with barren vistas, untamed forests, and characters that are as rugged and wild as the landscape they inhabit. The scene-setting and descriptive imagery are second to none; this is undoubtedly the greatest part of the book. 

There are quite a lot of characters to keep track of in this story, from police and suspects to neighbours, friends, and acquaintances. As a result, it's easy to lose sight of the main characters and fall down rabbit holes of subplots and unexplained events from the past. It almost feels as though this is a book midway through a series rather than a standalone; it feels as though much is left unsaid between the author and reader.

The plot itself focuses on Eira, a police detective hoping to solve a case while juggling family ties, loneliness, and her fascination with another case from years before. Eira is a complex character yet it is difficult to get under her skin. It's hard to relate to her, yet she is an intriguing lead in an undeniably character-driven novel. 

Perhaps unusually for a book in this genre, the story is driven by the characters and the locations. The actual plot - the police investigation - takes a backseat. This feels natural and works with the story, however, allowing the hardy, unassuming world and people to shine.

We Know You Remember is an immersive Scandinavian crime novel, packed with suspense, mystery, and a strange sense of nostalgia.

Rating: 3 stars 

We Know You Remember is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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