The Land of Dreams, by Vidar Sundstol (2008, 2013)

The Land of DreamsI stumbled across this series when the final book in the trilogy was released to NetGalley members. Intrigued by its description as an award-winning Norwegian crime novel set in the national forest of Minnesota, I found a copy at my local library and delved in. This first title in The Minnesota Trilogy was published in 2008, and translated into English by Tiina Nunnally for the 2013 release in North America. Lance Hansen is a police officer for the U.S. Forest Service, literally a cop in the woods. His normal work involves poachers and litterers. Until the morning a report of illegal camping leads him to discover two men, one dead. Both are naked, covered in blood, and both are Norwegian tourists. Hansen is himself the grandson of Norwegian immigrants, a common enough story in this community. He’s also the local historian, which leads him to discover a link between this death and one that occurred on the same spot more than a century ago. When the FBI and a Norwegian detective descend upon the community to investigate, Hansen becomes a central source of both information and suspicion, as the two visiting cops wonder just what it is he is hiding. This novel follows what I am discovering is a Scandinavian style of literature – a slow burn, demanding patience from the reader as clues and information are carefully unveiled. As the suspense builds, you are treated to great writing and imagery of the land on the shores of Lake Superior. Sundstol lived there for two years, bringing verisimilitude to the story, backed by an obvious affection for the land and the people of the area. The only odd note is an evident disdain for the motivations behind the Finnish-American celebrations of St. Urho’s Day, the locals’ answer to the Irish festivities on St. Patrick’s Day. Some intra-Scandinavian tension we North American are oblivious to? That aside, I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy – watch this space for more.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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