cover image I Am Behind You

I Am Behind You

John Ajvide Lindqvist. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-08657-0

Four families and their vacation caravans are somehow transported into a seemingly endless grassy meadow in Lindqvist’s ambitious and frustrating novel of cosmic horror, the first of a projected trilogy. Their world now includes a bright sky, no sun, a lot of grass, three married couples of various degrees of happiness, two friends who are inching toward romance, two children, one cat, one dog, and whatever was in the caravans when they arrived. GPS maps show them in places they cannot possibly be, such as on roads that ceased to exist years ago. The radio works, but plays only songs written by Peter Himmelstrand, a real-life 1960s Swedish pop star. (In Sweden, the title of the novel is Himmelstrand.) Unsurprisingly, tensions in the group are high, especially since unpleasant, elderly Donald has a gun, and Molly, one of the children, is a budding psychopath. The characters, the group dynamics, and the unfolding mystery of what’s going on and why are well-depicted and engrossing, but the ending peters out in a futile attempt to remain emotionally satisfying while still leaving most events unexplained. A future book may shed more light, but the first installment makes it difficult to maintain enough investment in the story to want more of it. Agent: Anneli Høier, Copenhagen Literary (Sweden). (Oct.)