cover image Only the Dead

Only the Dead

Vidar Sundstøl, trans. from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally. University of Minn., $22.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8166-8942-2

Like the central movement of a dark Grieg symphony, this brief second installment of Norwegian author Sundstøl’s Minnesota Trilogy resounds with two stunning variations on a single theme: the complex motivations behind murders that link brotherhood, love, and death. In the first book, 2013’s The Land of Dreams, forest ranger Lance Hansen, an insecure amateur historian, and his brother, Andy, set out on their annual November deer hunt on the North Shore of Lake Superior. When Lance checked out a report of an illegally pitched tent near the lake, he discovered the battered body of a Norwegian tourist. Shortly beforehand, Lance saw Andy near the crime scene. Now, as Lance’s relationship with his brother frays, he is consumed by a maelstrom of suspicion and fear that parallels Sundstøl’s eerie interpolated recollections of Lance’s distant relative, the pietistic Lutheran immigrant boy Thormod Olson, on a harrowing winter trek in search of the American dream more than a century earlier. As an ice storm builds around him, Lance’s emotional stability is shattered by the waking nightmares of a ghostly Ojibwe medicine man who mysteriously vanished from the same forest years earlier. Readers will eagerly await The Ravens, the trilogy’s conclusion. (Sept.)