We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal – Review
By Karl Hornsey
Despite being an avid reader of Scandi noir novels for many years, the books of Swedish author Tove Alsterdal had passed me. Until now, and the release of We Know You Remember. Perhaps it’s because her previous novels have all been standalones as opposed to series, which seem to be that bit easier to access and be aware of. Perhaps it’s simply that due to the sheer number of books in the genre that there’s always going to something you miss. Anyway, I’m glad to have finally made up for lost time, and immersed myself in a thriller that’s quite hard to pigeonhole.
Many Scandinavian authors fall back on the easy option of building atmosphere through the weather conditions, with snow, ice and isolation playing a major part of the genre’s success. That’s not the case with Alsterdal, who manages to create a feeling of claustrophobia, of suspense and of chilling mystery without relying on those lazy characteristics. And the book is all the better for it. There are also two other key reasons why this story is well worth a read for any fan of not only Scandi noir, but the many millions of avid lovers of crime fiction in general.
“A story that isn’t rushed”
The story features a cold case, which is always a great place to start and offers up so many options to the author. In this instance, we go back 20 years to when a local boy from a small community in Sweden has confessed to the murder of a teenage girl. Fast forward to the present and he returns back home to find his father dead, and is charged with his murder as well. Cue our introduction to detective Eira Sjodin, who provides the second key reason why this novel works so well. The list of strong, fearless, independent female police officers in Scandi noir grows ever longer, and Sjodin is a notably appealing addition to that list, bringing with her a depth of back story and a whole host of her own issues to deal with.
This is a story that isn’t rushed. Alsterdal takes her time in developing the characters, which is to be admired, and just when you think you’re on the right track, any numbers of twists and turns leave you back at square one. Without wanting to give away any spoilers, it’s best to just absorb yourself in the time and the place, and enjoy it, rather than trying to guess ‘whodunit’. Sometimes that’s not the be all and end all of a story, and that’s certainly the case here.
It’s also interesting to note that this will be the first in a series, with Eira Sjodin returning next year in You Will Never Be Found, which I’m sure will prove to be as popular as We Know You Remember, and there’s every chance of further bestsellers to follow.
We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal is published by Faber, £14.99 hardback