Early spring has its icy grip on Ödesmark, a small village 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 up an odd family, and Liv knows that they are cause for gossip among their few remaining neighbours. Everyone seems to wonder why Liv has stayed by her domineering father all these years? And if it is true that Vidar is sitting on a small fortune? His way of making business has made him many enemies over the years and in Ödesmark everyone knows everyone, and no one ever forgets…
The village Ödesmark is fictional, but in Swedish its name means about the same as wasteland, which may give you an idea about what the place is like. Endless forests, long roads, fourteen houses at the end of a road, five still inhabited and the rest in decay. It is a bleak backdrop and some of the characters living there are quite odd. Old secrets beneath the surface, menace, fear, hatred and people whispering, especially about how one man in the village has become so rich.
The dark story is told from Liv’s perspective and from that of Liam, a local drug dealer as dominated by his unpleasant brother, as Liv is by her father. Though not everything is pitch black, there are sparks of love between Liv and her son and glimpses of hope for the young single father Liam, trying to get clean and to create a better life for his little daughter.
Stina Jackson grew up in northern Sweden, but in her 20s she got married and moved to Denver in Colorado, where she still lives. She started to write during a life crisis and writing about the landscape where she grew up made her feel better. Her grandmother used to live in a little village outside Arvidsjaur, a village like Ödesmark. Stina Jackson is a true master in creating an atmospheric and tense setting, where many things are unspoken or just hinted at. Her novels are slow-burning, but infinitely fascinating and gripping. She really manages to get under the skin of her characters and both Liv and Liam will stay in you mind for a long time.
Stina Jackson doesn´t write traditional crime fiction novels. Her stories are sad family dramas set in harsh surroundings, where the characters and their relations are more interesting than the actual crimes. Besides they are written in a low-pitched and beautiful language and deserves to be read slowly.