A missing girl, a hidden body, a decades-long cover-up, and old sins cast in new light: the classic procedural meets Scandinavian atmosphere in this rich, character-driven mystery, awarded Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year, that heralds the American debut of a supremely skilled international writer.
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.
An intricate crime narrative in which past and present gracefully blend, We Know You Remember is a relentlessly suspenseful and beautifully written novel about guilt and memory in which nothing is what it seems, and unexpected twists upend everything you think you know.
There’s something about Scandi noir that makes it different from our own crime novels and police procedurals. It’s stripped back, realistic, never shies away from anything. It’s quite ‘hard’ though I’m not sure how to explain what I mean by that. The hero or heroine is usually tired, in or out of a messy relationship, drinks too much, has been around the block a few times. The women are rarely followers of fashion, don’t wear heels or make-up and have one-night stands with slightly suspect partners. The atmosphere is dark and murky. And they hunt animals like elk and reindeer. Poor Rudolph.
Cue police detective Eira Sjödin. Single, looks after her elderly mother who suffers with dementia, she was nine years old when Olof Hagström, then fourteen, was convicted of raping and killing teenager Lina Stavred, though her body was never found. Olof confessed, but was he guilty? Sent to a juvenile detention centre he was never seen again until now, when he discovers his father’s dead body in the house where he lived as a child.
Who killed Olof’s father? How could Olof be innocent with so much stacked against him? There are so many horrible people convinced it was him, and just want it forgotten so they can get on with their miserable lives in peace. Never mind the truth.
I love Scandi Noir and I loved this book. It’s so intricately woven with numerous strands waiting to come together. I really didn’t want it to end. I hope we’ll hear more from Eira in the future.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.
About the Author
Tove Alsterdal was born in Malmö, Sweden, and has worked as a journalist for over 20 years before she had her debut novel published.