We Know You Remember
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, We Know You Remember 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.
We Know You Remember has been named Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year and been awarded the prestigious Glass Key Award – the award for Best Nordic 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)
“Strong local color, convincing characters, and a twisty plot make this a standout. This is Swedish noir at its murky best.”
Publishers Weekly (US)
“While still full of very grim crimes, this mystery’s setting in the countryside during the summer makes for a less bleak setting than usual for the genre. Alsterdal plots enough twists to keep the police procedural interesting and writes a great woman protagonist; fans of international mystery will be happy to discover her.”
Library Journal (US)
“We Know You Remember is an incredibly good crime novel. Alsterdal doesn’t rely on action or revel in spectacular violence, but rather builds the suspense calmly and in a seemingly ordinary way. She’s a skilled storyteller who focuses on police work and relationships, while at the same time portraying the sparsely populated county of Ångermanland with nuance. The drama feels authentic, and just when you think the solution is close at hand there’s an unexpected twist. After five stand alone novels, Tove Alsterdal starts a series for the first time and the beginning is promising. I look forward to meeting Eira Sjödin and her colleagues in Kramfors again.”
“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, We Know You Remember 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)
“A novel is generally excellent if you have to stop at the very first page to re-read parts of the text – simply because the style demands it. With We Know You Remember, it suffices with the first three sentences; together they make up a little short story in its own right. […] As first suspected, this proves to be a crime novel that stays first-rate throughout; that the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy has named the book Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year isn’t hard to understand. Alsterdal has a style of her own and knows how to set the tone in just a few words. […] The milieus are stunning and if you haven’t been to those parts of the country, you’ll surely feel tempted to go.”
“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)
“In literature and atmosphere [the area of Ådalen] with its vast forests, cliffs and rivers is reminiscent of a combination of Stephen King’s New England and Tennessee Williams’ deep and demonic South. It is in this combined mood that Alsterdal with great skill builds her crime narrative […] This is a collective police procedural in the best Swedish tradition […] At the same time, this is a story about people in a Swedish backwater country that at best has become a place for summer tourists, but that hides destinies that run far back to the grandeur of industrialism, through depopulation and financial decline, to today’s rebranding as a national park. […] Alsterdal offers superb mastery of surprising plot, tons of atmosphere, and clever reflection of urgent topics in society – to the very last page.”
“If you’re an aspiring crime writer who wants to know how to start a book, you ought to read Tove Alsterdal’s new crime novel We Know You Remember, and then revisit the two first chapters. If you do so, you will see how masterfully and superbly you can introduce characters, milieus, and motifs (even the criminal ones); how an author with such effortless elegance can place crumbs along the path that readers follow – and without us ever even being aware of it. […] Alsterdal updates the collective narrative about [the area of Ådalen]. She portrays the sparsely populated yet large area with a poetic duality that clings to both plot and atmosphere. It is picturesque and hopeless at the same time. It is eerily secluded; the perfect fertile soil for loneliness to grow. But there are also fragrant buttercups and willowherbs and wild chervil growing along the side of the road, and trees as far as the eye can reach. Ådalen can also be the very epitome of freedom.”
Politiken, 5/6 stars (DK)