Book Review: Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

This was my last (of three) books from the Great Transworld Crime Capers event. It is the first in a series of four books by the Swedish writer Johan Theorin. The books all take place on Öland, an island off the Swedish east coast. From what I read about the second book, it does not seem to be related to the first, so you can read them independently.

Echoes from the Dead: What it is about

Julia Davidsson has been grieving for her missing son for 20 years. He disappeared from his grandparents’ house on the Swedish island of Öland.

She lives in Gothenburg and has been taking time off sick as a nurse of and on for a long time now. She also drinks too much. Her husband left her not long after the disappearance.

Her father still lives on Öland, in an old people’s home. When he receives a childrens’ shoe in the post, he asks Julia to come and see if it could be Jens’, her son.

Together (and separately) they go around the island talking to people they think may know more about what happened 20 years ago. Is the island’s most notorious man, Nils Kant, who was buried 30 years ago, still alive after all?

Echoes from the Dead: What I thought

Rating: 4/5 Initially, I thought Julia was a little unbelievable, to be actively mourning for her son after so many years. I can’t say what I would do in her situation, and I don’t want to know, but it seems Julia had put her life on hold for the last 20 years, just until she would find out what happened to her son.

The book had a great sense of place. The island and, in places, its very few inhabitants, the sea, the wilderness, I could visualise it all very clearly.

Both Julia and her father become stronger people during their search. Gerlof, the father, manages long trips outside the old people’s home and Julia manages to stay away from the wine and pills and slowly starts to deal with her son’s likely death. These were great character developments, especially Julia’s.

The book wasn’t a exactly a thriller, but more than a mystery. Someone dies, under circumstances which are not immediately suspicious, but the idea that Nils Kant may still be around is frightening and makes the book suspenseful.

The book was also about family, family relationships, grieving and coping. Recommended.

I got this book: free from Transworld Publishers as part of their Great Transworld Crime Capers

I read this in: English, the original language is Swedish

Number of pages: 480

First published: 2007

Genre: mystery

Extra: Also read my review of The Quarry by Johan Theorin

Great Transworld Crime Caper event


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

13 Responses to Book Review: Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

  1. Cindy says:

    I can’t imagine the horror of not knowing if ones child is alive somewhere. I’d probably find the book quite disturbing, but will look out for it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Cindy, there is not too much detail on the child. And as far as the mother is concerned, you mainly get to see the outward reaction on her grief: drinking, depression. I didn’t find it as disturbing as I thought I would.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin « Leeswammes' Blog | ReviewTica

  3. Nadine Nys says:

    I think it is remarkable that so many good mysteries, thrillers and detectives have been written in Scandinavia nowadays. Larsson did a great job.

    • Leeswammes says:

      It started long before Larsson, Nadine. But now more people are willing to pick up a Scandinavian crime writer. But they have been around for years.

  4. Tes says:

    I usually don’t like the stories about the suffering or lost of a mother because I get really emotional with the stories… but this one sounds really like it has an interesting direction and I love mysteries 🙂

  5. Trisha says:

    Interesting premise (you know, in that mildly morbid, train wreck way).

  6. Sounds very interesting. Stories about lost or dead children make me so sad, though. Your review has definitely put this on my maybe list!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Col, there weren’t any gory suggestions or details on what may have happened to the boy so it was quite okay, I thought. I especially liked the sense of place, the loneliness of the mother, the family relations etc.

  7. Dorte H says:

    I am glad you enjoyed Theorin so much. I think he is a fantastic writer, especially for his setting and characters.

    It is correct that you can read them independently, but there are characters that crop up in both the books I have read, e.g. old Gerlof.

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