The Silver Road by Stina Jackson (Transl. by Susan Beard)

Even the darkest journey must come to an end…

The Silver Road

**WINNER OF THE 2018 SWEDISH ACADEMY OF CRIME WRITERS’ AWARD FOR BEST SWEDISH CRIME NOVEL**

**WINNER OF THE 2019 GLASS KEY AWARD**

Book blurb

Three years ago, Lelle’s daughter went missing in a remote part of Northern Sweden. Lelle has spent the intervening summers driving the Silver Road under the midnight sun, frantically searching for his lost daughter, for himself and for redemption.

Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Meja arrives in town hoping for a fresh start. She is the same age as Lelle’s daughter was – a girl on the brink of adulthood. But for Meja, there are dangers to be found in this isolated place.

As autumn’s darkness slowly creeps in, Lelle and Meja’s lives are intertwined in ways, both haunting and tragic, that they could never have imagined.

My thoughts

Lelle’s daughter, Lina, went missing three years ago after he had dropped her at a bus stop. She never got on the bus. She hasn’t been seen since. Lelle, perhaps naturally, had initially but briefly been a suspect. His marriage imploded, he started to drink heavily and he has never stopped looking for her since. During the summer months, in which the book is mainly set, he drives the Silver Road practically every night. In summer in this part of Sweden night is as day.

This is a story of endless sadness, and a grief and loss which has become obsessive and self destructive. The endless sadness being reflected in Lelle, the main character, driving up and down The Silver Road relentlessly, endlessly. Every night in the endless light of summer he would set off to check out yet another area beside the silver road.

At Arvidsjaur petrol station Lelle would take a short break for coffee with Kippen with whom over time he had become friendly.

There is also a thread about a woman being kept against her will. She has been imprisoned by a masked man.

Meanwhile, a woman – Silje, arrives in Glimmersträsk with her daughter, Meja, to start a new life with a man, Torbjörn Fors, she met online. Silje is an alcoholic and has mental health issues. Meja and her mother have moved around quite a bit. Meja who is 17 years old has often taken on caring responsibilities for Silje.

As she explores the area Meja meets Carl-Johan Brandt and his brothers. The Brandt’s are survivalists in Svartliden – Birger, the father, along with his wife Anita and their three sons Pär, Göran and Carl-Johan. Carl-Johan is very taken with Meja as is she with him.

The police are represented locally by Hassan who is friendly with Lelle, they go back a way, and tries to be understanding. It seems to Lelle though that they just want him to stop trying to find Lina but Lelle believes it’s the only way to keep up pressure on the police to keep investigating.

Another girl, Hanna, goes missing and Lelle tries to get the police to see a connection but they don’t appear to be interested.

Lelle, when he works, teaches in a school in Tallbacka. It’s the same school that Meja goes to. Also where Crow goes to school.

Then Meja stops going to school and Lelle asks whether anyone at the school knows why. It seems she is off sick but Lelle is concerned after trying to see Meja at the Brandt’s place, where she is now living, with no luck. He tries to speak with the police but can only leave a message highlighting his worries and a request for information.

Will Lelle find out what happened to Lina? Will he be able to find out what has happened to Meja? Who is the captured woman? Who has taken her? And are Lana and Hanna’s disappearances linked?

This can be a bit of a tough read. It’s also very slow paced through the first half to three quarters as it builds a picture of place, people and what has happened. As we move into the last part of the book with all these questions mulling about the story picks up on pace and we finally find everything out.

The who may not come as a complete surprise to the reader but this is not entirely about any crime that may have been committed it is as much about how close ones – of victim and perpetrator – are affected.

Although I read it as a crime fiction for the book club it came across, to me, more about a story of grief and loss until at least three quarters of the way through. Whilst a crime, or crimes, had been committed we do not get any of the usual kind of investigation albeit that there may be one going on. What we have is Lelle’s agonised searching.

I have to say that meant I was not as taken with this book as I had hoped to be until that last part which did pick up with regard to the action. I also would have liked more about some of the peripheral characters such as Crow and that some of the characters, like Hassan, should have had a larger role. Indeed, for me, there needed to be much more from the police side. This may have been an issue around editing or possibly translation or maybe just simply the preference of the author and, obviously, I am looking at this from the point of view of a reader expecting to read a crime novel. I’m not sure how else the publishers would have classified it but, for me, it needed a different balance to get me more engaged.

There are some lovely passages with regard to setting and the description of how it feels to have a child taken not knowing what has happened is good. Given it’s awards this is a good story. I think it will be interesting to read the second book by this author.

Just for interest The Silver Road in Sweden does exist and is known as Route 95 running from Skellefteå up to the Norwegian border in the Arjeplog mountains. You may also find this site interesting Swedish Lapland.

Virtual Crime Book Club

If you’d like to know more about the Virtual Crime Book Club go to Rebecca’s website – there are wonderful things to enjoy there. And do give Rebecca’s books a read they’re really enjoyable.

If you’re thinking of joining us then the next book club is October. Check out:

Virtual Crime Book Club – Video and Voting!

Here you can check out the book club episode: The Silver Road – warning ⚠️ there are spoilers lurking there! This month Marina Sofia kindly took the helm as Rebecca was feeling a little ‘under the weather’ – best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Information

Publisher: Corvus – part of Atlantic Books Main Edition (7 Mar. 2019)

Buy: AmazonSmileUK |Local Bookshop|Publisher links:

Translator: SELTA profile: Susan Beard

British-born native English speaker. Highly accomplished and experienced (over 25 years) with demonstrated ability for accuracy and meeting deadlines. Published translator of fiction and non-fiction, specialising in books for children and young adults. Publications include Emil and the Sneaky Rat (2008) and The Children of Noisy Village (publication July 2014), both by Astrid Lindgren; Thin Ice by Mikael Engström (2011),entered for the Marsh Award for children’s literature in translation, and Me on the Floor Bleeding, by Jenny Jägerfeld (2013). Commercial translations, especially medical, undertaken. Certified translator of certificates, diplomas, etc. (CIOL – Profile)

BookAfterBookinConversationwithSBeard

Author: Stina Jackson was born in 1983 and raised in Skellefteå, northern Sweden. In 2006 she moved to Denver, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and small dog. The Silver Road is her debut novel.

Stina Jackson|

Books

Out: Feb 2021

What secrets are hidden within the walls of a desolate farmhouse in a forgotten corner of Lapland?

Early spring has its icy grip on Ödesmark, a small village in northernmost Sweden, abandoned by many of its inhabitants. But Liv Björnlund never left. She lives in a derelict house together with her teenage son, Simon, and her ageing father, Vidar. They make for a peculiar family, and Liv knows that they are cause for gossip among their few remaining neighbours.

Just why has Liv stayed by her domineering father’s side all these years? And is it true that Vidar is sitting on a small fortune? His questionable business decisions have made him many enemies over the years, and in Ödesmark everyone knows everyone, and no one ever forgets.

Now someone wants back what is rightfully theirs. And they will stop at nothing to get it, no matter who stands in their way…

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