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Book review: Dark Pines

Written by Will Dean
Available from Amazon
Ages: 19-25

Reviewed by Liam (21) who is mildly deaf.


"In many ways Dark Pines by Will Dean is your traditional Swedish crime novel. With a unique setting, confident characters and a gritty crime at its heart, it’s a bold debut. Yet perhaps more unconventional is the protagonist, Tuva Moodyson, a journalist for the local paper, who is deaf.

Often described as an invisible disability, seeing how writers represent deafness is always interesting. In this case, Tuva’s hearing aids are constantly mentioned across the 300-or-so page novel. Sometimes it’s relevant but in other instances it serves as an unnecessary reminder.

Throw in some other characters – of which there’s a unique bunch, including a creepy taxi driver, eccentric ghostwriter and haunting doll makers – and you not only get a classic whodunnit but also some interesting conversations with hearing characters who are far from deaf aware.

The over-the-top fascination with deafness and the backhanded compliment ‘you talk well for a deaf person’ both make an appearance but are quickly challenged in Dean’s writing. While working on the book, the author consulted with blogger Deafinitely Girly and the research shows.

The same goes for the setting. Based in a fictional forest, it’s a landscape familiar to Dean, an Englishman who now lives in rural Sweden. However it isn’t long before he runs out of imaginative ways of describing the surroundings, with similes getting more farfetched and bizarre as the story drags on.

Like most crime fiction, Dark Pines is slow to develop with a lot of repetition to make up for it. But when the story picks up pace in the second half of the book it becomes a gritty, thrilling and worthwhile read. I’d give the book three stars out of five."