Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Voices Beyond by Johan Theorin

First Line: The ghost ship came gliding out of the darkness across the black waters of the Sound, giving way to nothing and no one.

It is summer on the beautiful Swedish island of Öland, and visitors are arriving in their thousands to enjoy the sun and the water. Among the visitors is young Jonas Kloss, who's looking forward to staying with his aunt and cousins. But one moonlit night when he takes a small boat out on the water, a ship looms out of the darkness and the horror the young boy finds on board has him fleeing for his life.

Jonas finds himself on the doorstep of elderly Gerlof Davidsson, a man of the sea and native to Öland. Once Gerlof is able to convince Jonas to talk to him, the old man knows that this summer will be like no other. The Homecomer has returned, and he's waited a lifetime to exact his revenge. 

I loved the previous three books in Theorin's Öland Quartet. The man is a master at creating complex characters and building suspense. Unfortunately The Voices Beyond fell flat for me. Gerlof was still his charming curmudgeonly self with his loneliness and painfully aching legs, and young Jonas was wonderfully complex as well. And that setting! Theorin is also a master at building a setting so vivid and detailed that it counts as one of the characters in his books.

Where the book fell flat was in its pacing. The point of view was constantly shifting from Gerlof to Jonas to a young musician named Lisa to the Homecomer himself who spoke both from the present day and from the time of Stalin's reign of terror. The constant shifting didn't confuse me at all, but the very short chapters moving from one character to the next actually slowed the pace down to a crawl and made the book a chore to read.

As a whole, would I still recommend the Öland Quartet? Yes, I would. The first three  (Echoes from the Dead, The Darkest Room, and The Quarry) are superb, and who knows? The slow pace of The Voices Beyond may not bother you at all. For anyone with a fondness for Scandinavian crime fiction, evocative settings, and complex characters, Johan Theorin's Öland Quartet should not be missed.

The Voices Beyond by Johan Theorin
Translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy
ISBN: 9780857520067
Doubleday © 2015
Paperback, 475 pages

Suspense, #4 Öland Quartet
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Waterstones, Cambridge, UK



  1. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this one didn't do it for you, Cathy. It is such a great series, and I completely agree on the setting. Hmm....I may still try this one, but it's good to know about the pacing.

    1. I loved the other books so much that this was a bit of a letdown.

  2. I noticed it was in your current reads longer than what is normal for you. I wondered if you were having some difficulty staying with it.

    The first book Echoes from the Dead was in my best crime read fiction for 2016. I really liked it and thought I found a new favorite author. I have The Darkest Room to read. Thanks for the heads up about the 4th book. I still have two more books to read before I get there.

    1. Yes, I think I kept picking up my eBook until I made myself settle down. Right now my current reads haven't changed because I've been busy. I've been enjoying both!


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!