On Midsummer's Eve, 1974, Annie Raft arrives with her daughter Mia in the remote Swedish village of Blackwater to join her lover Dan on a nearby commune. On her journey through the deep forest, she sumbles upon the site of a grisly double murdera crime that will remain unsolved for nearly twenty years, until the day Annie sees her grown daughter in the arms of one man she glimpsed in the forest that eerie midsummer night.
Like Gorky Park and Smilla's Sense of Snow, Blackwater is a unique trhiller in which the hearts and minds of the characters are as strikingly compelling as the exotic northern landscape that envelops them.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.99(d)|
About the Author
Kerstin Ekman is the author of seventeen novels that have been published in Scandinavia and Europe. Blackwaterher first novel published in Englishreceived the Swedish Crime Academy's Award for best crime novel, the August Prize, and the Nordic Counci's Literary Prize. She lives in Valsjobyn, a small village in northern Sweden.
Reading Group Guide
Midsummer Eve, 1974, in the far north of Sweden, near the Norwegianborder. Annie Raft arrives with her six-year-old daughter, Mia, in the remote village of Blackwater to join her lover, Dan, on a nearby commune. But Dan does not meet them. In the eerie light of the midsummer night, a frightened Annie wanders into the forest, where the myriad paths cross like veins in a body, to find the commune. A strange dark young man rushes by, without seeing her. By the rushing waters of the river, Annie comes upon a tent, and what she sees inside will haunt her for years to come -- until the morning Annie spies her daughter in the arms of the man from the forest, and a crime unsolved for nearly twenty years begins to roll toward a dark and devastating conclusion. Psychologically complex and deeply sensual, Blackwater is a unique and unique and unforgettable thriller, in which the hearts and minds of the characters are as striking as the exotic northern landscape that envelops them.
1. Blackwater moves back and forth in time between past and present, and recreates events. What does this narrative structure reveal about the nature of memory?
2. Critics have noted that this novel diverges from the crime or mystery genre. Would you agree? In what respects might it diverge? What does the element of murder add? Can you imagine this novel without the central mystery?
3. The novel touches upon environmental issues of clear cutting, uranium mining, and the international underground trade in peregrine hunting. How do these issues deepen our underground trade in peregrine hunting. How do these issues deepen our understanding of place? What sort of character is place in this novel? How is human nature revealed to be similar to the natural world?
4. At one point, Annie says, "Why do we keep looking for meaning and connections? It's the way our minds work, seeking pattern and order. Yet we scatter our lives, helplessly and absently." This statement hints at an alienation between our thoughts and our lived lives. What other themes of alienation run through the book?
5. When Johan is trapped at the bottom of the well, he finds his only companion is an eel, which later becomes his pet. How does the relationship with this animal humanize Johan in a way that human relationships cannot? Can you think of other examples where animals play such a role?
6. When Annie decided to move to the rustic commune, she had lost her teaching job, and desired a simpler life. Aside from the murder scene she encounters, what sort of complications does she face as a result of her decision? Is her life truly simpler?
7. Blackwater takes place near the border between Sweden and Norway. Many figurative borderlines come into play as the novel progresses. Which are the most important?
8. The setting of the novel is unfamiliar to most English-language readers. How does the exotic locale influence our experience of reading? Do we ever find ourselves at home in this strange land?
9. How does Dan's failure to meet Annie and Mia when they arrive in Blackwater influence the course of events? Are there any other instances of such crucial absence in the book?
10. How is the relationship between Annie and Mia affected by the memory of the murders? What other sorts of intimacy are affected? Can we draw any universal knowledge about the nature of evil and its effects from witnessing the relationships between characters as they unfold?
About the Author:
Kerstin Ekman lives in Valsjobyn, a small village in northern Sweden, near the Norwegian border, an area which is one of Europe's last and most considerable wildernesses. Blackwater was inspired by the true story of the unsolved murder of two Dutch hitch-hikers in their tent in a town to the north of Valsjobyn.
Ekman is the author of seventeen novels that have been widely published in Scandinavia and Europe. Blackwater -- her first novel to appear in English -- received the Swedish Crime Academy's Award for best crime novel, the August Prize, and the Nordic Council's Literary Prize.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ekman's Blackwater is possessive. It grabs you and you can't put it down. It's dark and gritty - peppered with angry scenes of violence and meaningless, lust driven sex. Like a maze with many twisting passages Blackwater has a community of dark stories to tell. Each tale is tangled with another and at the center, common to all, is a double murder. While everyone knows about it and is touched by it, no one can solve it for twenty years.In the beginning Annie Raft follows a lover to Blackwater to his out-of-the-way commune. On her first day in town Annie stumbles across the murdered bodies of two tourists camping in the backwoods of Blackwater. For twenty years she is haunted by the face of the man she thinks did it until one day that face comes back in the form of her daughter's newest boyfriend. The mystery, along with a whole host of secrets, start to unravel.The landscape is such an important element in the novel I would have enjoyed a map, something that illustrates Annie getting lost in the forest, how far away from town the commune was, where the well was that Johan was tossed into in relation to where the murders took place, etc.
Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman is a crime novel by a Swedish author, but it's much more than just another dark Scandinavian mystery. The novel centers around a double murder, following the lives of three people affected by the event; the young woman who stumbles across the bodies, a doctor whose wife is in the area at the time, and a teenage boy who runs away the night of the killings. For much of the novel, as the characters go about living their lives, the murders are almost forgotten. Ekman explores the themes of solitude and loneliness, how you can live with someone and still be a stranger to them, environmental destruction and the uncomfortable tension between a nostalgia for days gone by and the harsh reality of life in the middle of Sweden in the past. The writing is beautiful with lovely descriptions of a part of Sweden between Ostersund and Norway, where nature is lush and fragile, the people hardy but closed to outsiders. The mystery is solved in the end, in a satisfying way. A book well worth reading.
It's transition from past to present, and the he, she, and I's make it very difficult to follow. It is also very difficult to connect to any characters. If I wasn't reading for a book club, I would not have continued reading it. And, I admit, would have missed out on the rest of the story. It is a very bleak story. It gets easier to figure out about page 150, after 1 confusing chapter about the doctor. Then about page 300, the story gets good, and things start to make sense, and then I had to finish to see if the newest murder was connected to the original lakeside murders. Also, wanted to see if they finally tie a murderer into the story. It does eventually wind up the story, but very late in the game. I would not recommend it if you aren't reading it. However, that being said, if you are already reading, I recommend finishing.
This is a dreary book that surely lost a lot when it was changed into English. I'm halfway thru and want to just stop but I want to find out just what the purpose of this book is. Very confusing about past and present. Would definitely NOT recommend.