Drowned, set in the idyllic countryside during a short-lived Swedish summer, gets under one's skin from the first page, creating an atmosphere of foreboding in which even the perfume of freshly picked vegetables roasting in the kitchen becomes ominous.
On the surface, the story couldn't be simpler. A single young woman visits her older sister, who is married to a writer as charismatic as he is violent. As the young woman falls under her brother-in-law's spell, the plot unfolds in a series of precisely rendered turns. Meanwhile the reader, anticipating the worst, hopes against hope that disaster can be averted.
More than a mere thriller, this debut novel delves deep into the feminine soul and at the same time exposes the continuing oppression of women in Sweden's supposedly enlightened society. Mixing hothouse sensuality with ice-cold fear on every page, Drowned heralds the emergence of a major new talent on the international scene.
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May 22, 2012
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Excerpt from Drowned by Therese Bohman
I am slightly embarrassed by his scrutiny, I imagine he must think I look pale, wrong in some way, ugly. But that is not what his expression suggests. I wonder what he's thinking.
A lock of hair has fallen into his eyes, he pushes it back with his hand and leaves a red mark on his forehead. When he looks at his hand and sees that it is sticky with paint, he realizes what has happened. "Have I got red paint on my forehead?" "Yes." I smile. So does he, slightly embarrassed again. "A lot?" "No, not really...let me."
I move a step closer and run my thumb gently over the mark on his forehead. He looks at me, no longer smiling. There is a strong smell of paint, as if the hot, still air is intensifying the smell, making it linger. The lock of hair falls into his eyes again, and I gently push it aside to get at the paint. I can feel his breath against my cheek, he is close now, bending his head toward me so that I can reach. His forehead is brown from the sun, his whole face, his arms, he is wearing a faded black T-shirt and he smells wonderful, warm.
"Has it gone?"
I hold up my hand to show him, red paint on my thumb and forefinger, and he suddenly grabs hold of my wrist, twists my hand around, and looks at my fingers. It is a rapid movement, decisive, his grip is hard, just like when I met him on that first evening, the firm handshake. Perhaps he isn't aware of how strong he is. "Pretty nail polish," he says. I did my nails last night, a cool pink, shimmering like mother-of pearl in the sunlight. "Thanks," I say quietly.