New York Times Review of Books: The Land of Dreams

By Marilyn Stasio
New York Times Review of Books

sundstol_land coverWhat wonders there are in America’s own backyard, if we only think to look. That’s what the Norwegian writer Vidar Sundstol does in THE LAND OF DREAMS (University of Minnesota, $24.95), a murder mystery translated by Tiina Nunnally and set against the harsh landscape of the Lake Superior shore. This region was settled by hardy Scandinavian pioneers, and Lance Hansen, a police officer who works for the United States Forest Service, is proud to be descended from such stout stock. (“What dreams those people must have had.”) But the murder of a Norwegian tourist shocks him into thinking about other victims and other acts of violence that might have been lost to history. There’s a wintry bleakness to Hansen’s brooding about the past, which is more interesting than the case he’s working and more compatible with the austere setting. Hansen is a good cop and a decent man, but the extraordinary choice he opts for at the novel’s end makes it certain that he’ll not be having pleasant dreams for a very long time.

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