A country road winds through blue-tinged mountains, a river smooth as a mirror stretches out like a second sky. Olof Hagström is driving south along the northern coast of Sweden when he makes an impulsive turn into the small town where he grew up, a place he hasn’t stepped foot in over twenty years. Outside his childhood home, something is amiss. A dog barks relentlessly inside, and water is running down the dilapidated façade. Olof searches under a familiar stone: the key is where he remembered. Inside the house he discovers a panicked dog, a terrible stench, water pooling on the floor. Olof draws back the shower curtain in the bathroom and finds his father, a man he has not seen or spoken to in nearly two decades. He is dead.
Police investigator Eira Sjödin has recently left Stockholm to return to her childhood home in the Ådalen region of Northern Sweden in order to care for her aging mother who is slipping into dementia. When Eira is sent to investigate the suspicious death of an elderly man, nightmares from her childhood come flooding back. Eira was only nine years old when a teenage Olof Hagström was found guilty of raping and murdering a local girl named Lina Stavred, but the case left a wound in the town’s collective memory and tinged Eira’s own upbringing with fear. Olof Hagström was only fourteen years old at the time, and too young to be sentenced. But when he was sent to a youth home, his family severed all ties with him and Olof was never seen in the town again. Until now.
Did Olof kill his father Sven? Eira Sjödin begins a search for Sven Hagström’s killer that will lead her back to the Lina-case. What she finds will shake the town, and her own family, to the core. A missing girl, a hidden body, a decades-long cover-up, and old sins cast in new light.
Inspired by real historical cases that came to change the law regarding rape as well as how police handle child suspects, Uprooted is a relentlessly suspenseful and beautifully written novel about guilt and memory. Just as the story appears to near a dramatic resolution, a door opens to yet another mystery. Nothing is what it seems in this intricate crime novel where past and present intertwine with effortless grace.
In November 2020, Uprooted was named Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year.
“The police Eira is a great new acquaintance and Alsterdal is incredibly skilled at portraying both milieus and the human psyche. Here we’re transported to the region of Ångermanland, but also to a darkness that has long affected an entire community. A clever plot with an evocative atmosphere that doesn’t release its grip on the reader for a single moment.”
“What makes Tove Alsterdal such an excellent crime writer? It’s the fact that she writes about ordinary people with such authenticity, people who are neither purely evil nor good. The crimes are rarely meticulously premeditated, instead they are tragic events that happen out of desperation. Alsterdal’s strength is her ability to portray human relationships and draw sharp, psychological portraits.”
Vi läser (SE)
“Tove Alsterdal is one of the very best in the genre. What’s more, her multifaceted suspense novels shed light on burning topics of our times.”
Damernas Värld (SE)
“Throughout the riveting plot, Tove Alsterdal elegantly weaves in ideas about the terms of rural life today, about the handling of minors in legal processes, about hate campaigns on social media, about the human thirst and longing for emotional connection. I want to know more about Eira Sjödin. About her loneliness, melancholy, longing, her take-no-prisoners attitude.”
“Tove Alsterdal has the ability to not only create a suspenseful crime story – she also succeeds in describing an entire region in detail, where several individual people’s lives becomes threads in a tightly woven shared story. […] Alsterdal builds her tale on the everyday lives of normal people. They are all credible, they all have reasons for doing what they do. The small, simple actions that seem so natural when you do them end up resulting in scary consequences – and it is not always the murderer that is the most frightening.”
Lotta Olsson, Dagens Nyheter (Se)
“Alsterdal delicately handles the milieus of Ångermanland, both the countryside and the small towns, as well as the people there and their complex and infected relationships. Not least, it’s about rumors and gossip and how a person’s image can be cemented because of one single event. […] In addition, Uprooted offers an ending that’s uncommon for the genre, and I just want more of Eira and her Ångermanland – as soon as possible.”
SKÅNSKA DAGBLADET (SE)
“This is a thrilling story that is unfurled with tentacles stretching back in time. The relatable language and the very real descriptions of characters and places in the region of Ådalen, where people are not simply good or evil, give the novel its distinctive edge.”
“Tove Alsterdal delivers, both in suspense and style. Her vivid metafors give me the chills.”
EXPRESSEN SÖNDAG (SE)
“Tove Alsterdal stands out as high quality reading. She weaves together past and present, politics with private life, creating a well-written and remarkable web of suspense.”
M Magasin (SE)
“Tove Alsterdal is skilled at weaving together stories and going deep into people’s hidden nooks and crannies, and like a storm she uproots old truths and casts history in a new light. […] Tove Alsterdal has the blow life into her stories to the very last page, and to give them both credibility and a depth that feels wholly authentic.”
“Tove Alsterdal is an exceptionally skilled storyteller. She stokes the suspense constantly and the novel is a true page turner – you keep wondering ‘what happens next?’ Her style is rich and vivid, broad and resilient, with humor and sensitive character portraits. Her nature scenes are fantastic and the author has a truly loving eye on the landscape… At the same time, this is a intuitive and nuanced portrayal of the often so contradictory human psyche; how we act with motives that can be difficult to understand, how we maintain dubious loyalties, irrational insecurities and fears, remarkable egoism, a surprising willingness to sacrifice, generosity and frailty in one and the same person, when we are at our best and when we are at our worst – and everything in-between.”
Tidningen Ångermanland (SE)
“Alsterdal weaves together plot, history, and geography in such a beautiful way […] Moreover, the resolution is everything but expected. But then again, Tove Alsterdal is the author, a mark of quality.”
Borås Tidning (SE)