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Blackwater

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3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,349 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
The English-language debut of one of Sweden's most prominent novelists--a mesmerizing thriller about a pair of grisly murders that go unsolved for nearly 20 years. Psychologically complex, emotionally dynamic, and deeply sensual, this brilliant novel is disturbing, provocative, and rich in atmosphere.
Hardcover, 434 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Doubleday (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Harry
Book Review

There are [Swedish] writers who set their novels in the more rural and sparsely populated settings, lending a decidedly chill atmosphere to the stories (the Swedish have an almost mystical attitude towards wooded areas and trees).

The above I wrote in my review of and in response to Camille Ceder's Frozen Moment, the first example of a Swedish book I've read that alluded to a Swede's almost mystical attitude toward the woods. Blackwater is another prime exemplar of this type of book, a
...more
Larissa
Part of what continues to fascinate me about Scandinavian crime fiction is the routine respect with which the authors approach their genre--the real quality of the prose and complexity not only of the plots themselves, but of the milieus--the characters and settings peripheral to the events that these books are 'about.' Ekman's Blackwater is currently my favorite example of this--an eliptical rendering of a brutal, unsolved crime in a mountain village in Northern Sweden. For although this crime ...more
Jim Coughenour
A welcome discovery for insatiable fans of Henning Mankell. This complicated, disturbing novel reminds me of the best of Ruth Rendell. The story is spread over a couple decades, involving a crime that evades understanding, let alone a solution. First published in Sweden in 1993, Blackwater won the Swedish Crime Academy's Award for Best Crime Novel, the August Prize and the Nordic Council's Literary Prize. The translation is excellent: it won't disappoint English-speaking readers either, although ...more
Stacia
Jul 11, 2012 Stacia rated it it was ok
I always felt like I was being kept at arm's length while I read this book, and unfortunately that meant that I didn't develop any sort of sympathy for any of the characters. I'm thinking this is an "atmospheric thriller," because it definitely had a sense of time and place. However, when the location is not only the main character, but the only one that grows and changes, that is a bit of a problem. I have to admit, I finished the book not completely understanding everything that had happened. ...more
Manny

- Have you read Händelser Vid Vatten? Kerstin Ekman.

- Which one's that?

- You know, the controversial one. The teenage boy gets stuck down a well...

- Oh right, that one! Yes, I've read it. He escapes with a salamander in a bucket...

- Isn't it an eel?

- Well maybe an eel then. I don't know. And he somehow ends up in a relationship with this considerably older woman. He uses low-fat margarine to...

- Look, the low-fat margarine doesn't have anything much to do with the story.

- I know, I know. But som
...more
Shawna
Jul 02, 2009 Shawna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bleeeech. I hated everyone in this book and wished they all would die, and i am pissed that i spent my precious time reading it for nothing. The story kept promising interest, but never delivered. Crappy, crappy book.
Tony
Feb 08, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh what a surprise this novel turned out to be. A pleasant surprise. I'd read about Kerstin Ekman in an article on "Nordic Nor", so was expecting another Wallender style police procedural. Was I wrong! Yes, there is a crime and it resonates through the book, but there is so much more. This is literature of the highest order. The theme of nature runs through this book like a mountain stream. The descriptions of the forests lakes and mountains are outstanding. Poetic and beautiful. The natural wor ...more
Malin
Sep 20, 2009 Malin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really can't decide if it was an amazing book or just okay, but I mark okay anyway. If anyone wants to read something breaking most writing rules, this is the right book. POV change, multiple POVs, tempus change, long descriptions with name after name of plants or lots of adjectives. Basically, all the wrongs I dislike. Nevertheless, the narrators' voice seeped into my mind and made my thoughts dark and windling, like the story was. A very special style, and quite admirable, yet a difficult bo ...more
John
Sep 23, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
About twenty years ago, two campers were savagely murdered in their tent near the small, remote Swedish town of Blackwater. The case was never solved; indeed, there's a strong suggestion that the authorities just wanted it to go away. Today, we find that the relationships between four of the people whose lives were most affected by the crime -- including the woman who discovered the bodies, Annie Raft -- have shifted. But then there's another murder, and it seems to be connected to that old case ...more
Malin Magnusson
Skogssnårigt spännande och tistelvackert, en norrbottnisk dubbelmordhistoria i klassisk Ekmanmiljö omöjlig att gissa sig fram till (ok jag hade rätt till 50% iallafall)
Inte den allra allra bästa och bara för att det är Ekman så blir det 4/5; hade någon annan skrivit den här romanen hade jag säkert varit eld&lågor och hivat iväg en 5a i ett hujj. Så gör väl en kass recensent men kanske kröp inte karaktärerna in i mitt huvud på samma vis som de brukar. Bara den överviktige provinsialläkaren Bi
...more
Claire
Oct 16, 2012 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-shelf
Shame on me for letting this story sit unloved on my bookshelf for years!

I really enjoyed this crime novel. It's different, firstly as it's not written from the usual perspective of the detective solving the murder case. Kerstin Ekman wrote Blackwater from the point of view of three main characters and I really felt like I could relate to the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of three distinct individuals throughout.

It was beautifully written but in a very 'real' way. For me, what makes it st
...more
Jill
Feb 26, 2011 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: Jenny
Shelves: mystery
I had a hard time reading this book though it was very good. She is very descriptive in her writing but also very enigmatic. She starts out her chapters with "he" or "she" and it is only later into the page or pages you know which character she is referring to. As it takes place along the border of Sweden and Norway, the characters' names and the place names are very foreign so sometimes difficult to remember from chapter to chapter. I found myself skipping passages that were overly descriptive- ...more
Paula Leal de matos
A thriller that extends over 2 decades in Lapland. It describes the changes in this far north, isolated and remote part of Sweden,(with Lapland in Norway and Finland close by). In the seventies, the descrimination against Samis, the raindeer herders, the pervasive alcoholism and the hippy communities living in the forest. In the nineties, the forest already partly destroyed by the wood companies. More importantly, it shows the destruction that things left unsaid bring to people's lifes. The book ...more
Arielle
Aug 09, 2007 Arielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book - intricate, delicate mystery that unfolds over a 30-year period. The detailed recounting of people's lives in a remote part of Sweden - beautiful descriptions of the landscape, intense listings of plants and seasons, all wound around the story of a murder that goes unsolved for 30 years. The history and changes that the characters undergo are fascinating and draw the reader into a flawless mystery. Ekman gets deep into the characters' lives and souls, and unflinching, tells the sto ...more
Eric
Aug 19, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark dark dark, wow was this a dark book. The writing was strange and a bit confusing at first, but once I got used to the author's unique style, I enjoyed the book. While I remember liking it, at a certain point I tried to finish it as quickly as possible because the book seemed to be lowering a depressing pall over pretty much everything. It's good, but be prepared for dark, heavy stuff.

Oh, and the eel in the bucket was a particularly nice touch.

Drusie's Biblio
Jan 30, 2014 Drusie's Biblio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You can translate this review on: http://labibliotecadidrusie.blogspot.it/

Le sinossi sono come i bugiardini delle medicine, non andrebbero mai lette. Questa, come potete vedere, promette momenti mozzafiato, adrenalina, palpitazioni. In realtà quello che mi sono trovata tra le mani è un libro paludoso, triste e vischioso. Avrebbe anche un bell'intreccio una buona dose di personaggi con i loro bravi segreti, una quantità di fili e strade sbarrate sufficienti a renderlo una vicenda abbastanza vero
...more
Kristin Butler
Jul 22, 2015 Kristin Butler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know nothing about Swedish crime fiction, other than, of course, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I came across this book inadvertently,and was immediately intrigued. It was a little difficult to follow at first, since the names and geography were completely foreign to an American who has not travelled to Scandinavia. However, I became very engaged with the characters, the psychological profiles, the beautiful descriptions of the landscape, so much so that I have a rekindled interest in travel ...more
Jeanette
Mar 19, 2014 Jeanette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Got to page 165. This particular abandonment dis of a novel should be put on me, not the book itself or the writing skill of this author. Although it is a wordy, descriptive mood and deep individual thought pattern/ perception that is going on here in this novel. Many more words in description and interior thought than there are in dialog- by multiples, in fact. But my interest just died. Because this Blackwater is bleak and beyond stark, and as far as I can tell from nearly any of the myriad ch ...more
Jana
Sep 21, 2015 Jana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nordic, fiction
I will read this book again. I was too young to understand, but obviously not too young to forget it. I remember darkness, coldness and cruelty. I don't know why, but this is what stayed with me. I've seen it in the library, and soon, I will give it another go.
Agnese
Dec 21, 2015 Agnese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zviedru
Šīs grāmatas attīstību es gribētu raksturot kā vienmērīgu plūdumu gandrīz taisnā līnijā, kas jau tad, kad grāmata ir krietni pāri pusei un es pieņemu, ka tā arī līdz beigām turpinās savu nesteidzīgo tecējumu, negaidīti uzbango augšupvērstā parabolā, pārejot augstākā kvalitātē (Līdz minētajam pīķim man prātā bija četras zvaigznītes, bet savu novērtējumu nācās labot.). Man jāatzīst, ka šis pēkšņais pavērsiens grāmatas otrajā daļā, kaut arī beidzot izskaidroja Kšerstinas Ēkmanes "Notikumi pie ūdeņi ...more
Sharm Alagaratnam
One of my favourite books of all time. Especially good if read by a fireplace and it's dark and snowy outside!
Kelly
Jul 16, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one for my book club. It was an odd but strangely alluring tale of Sweden, communes, an eel, and murder.
Kirsty Darbyshire

I'm not sure what to make of this book so far. It's got plenty of intriguing stuff going on but it's not unputdownable. It starts in what I presume is the present day, at least it's eighteen years after the story that starts to be told a few pages in. In those first few pages we see at least three of the characters from the main story that comes after them.

One of the problems I have with translated stories is that I wonder how much of the writing is what would have been in the original version.

...more
Carol
Feb 28, 2011 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, scandinavia
The story centers around Annie Raft, a single mother who is traveling to the northern part of Sweden to join her boyfriend Dan who lives in a sort of commune there. When Annie and her daughter get off the bus, however, Dan is nowhere to be found. She and her daughter scramble to find a way to get to the remote commune, and while hiking through a wooded area, Annie stumbles upon a murder scene. Two people camping in a tent have been stabbed to death. The murder remains unsolved and years later, A ...more
Greg
Dec 22, 2013 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Blackwater is not your typical Nordic noir work. Usually, Scandinavian crime novels focus around a flawed protagonist becoming entangled with a gruesome crime that plays on the investigator's neuroses and weaknesses.

Blackwater has no such character; really there is no real "investigator" character at all. There is a crime, but it is presented in such a way that we don't really get to know the victims, or care all that much about them. Blackwater is not about who killed them.

Instead, what this bo
...more
Karschtl
Düsteres Drama rund um einen Mord an zwei Jugendliche im Norden von Schweden und wie sich das Leben der damaligen 'Zeitzeugen' 18 Jahre später entwickelt hat. Ganz besonders wird hier das Leben von Birger (dem Azt), Annie (der Lehrerin) und Johan (einem jugendlichen Ausreißer) betrachtet. Dieses Wechsel-Spiel der Geschichten, Perspektiven und Gefühle hat mich nicht so sehr gestört. Was mich viel mehr störte: sooo viele Namen von Menschen und Ort- oder Landschaften, und alle wurden einfach so unv ...more
Judith
Oct 08, 2015 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/13155307

How frustrating! I forgot to make a journal entry about this book right after I read it, many months ago. So I did not remember reading it until I started reading it again. Then names and events all sounded familiar. Yes, I read it.

A complex story that takes place in Sweden, in remote areas near the border with Norway, as I recall.

In 1974 Annie Raft and her little daughter Mia pass the site of a brutal murder
...more
Des Small
A literary novel spanning 30 years of rural Zwedish festerings, with thuggish foresters, a hippy commune and the breakdown of the doctor's marriage. Generously larded with gratuitous nature writing and macguffined with a couple of murders.

It's all very fine, but it was billed as a krimi and it isn't really one. (See my forthcoming rant "On the betweenstoolfallingness of the literary thriller". The Germans have a word for it, you know.)
Tiziana
This book made me dream of living somewhere in Northern Sweden, near the Norwegian border; somewhere cold and desolate. Perhaps alone, if communities up there prove to be as difficult as they have been portrayed in this story. But living alone up there can make one go crazy.

As far as mystery & crime thrillers go, this was quite good - the mystery surrounding the double murder increases and the last 120 pages were quite surprising at some points - but the rest was not so compelling. Even thou
...more
Jackie
Sep 22, 2014 Jackie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international
Well I persevered and finished this novel, but it was a hard read. It was dark, often times confusing, and I could not identify with, respect or even remotely like any of the characters. Sometimes when I finish reading a book, I need time to let it settle before I am ready to start a new one, But in this case I'll be very happy to begin reading a new book. I need to get my mind off these characters.
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Kerstin Lillemor Ekman is a Swedish novelist.
She began her career with a string of successful detective novels (among others De tre små mästarna ("The Three Little Masters") and Dödsklockan ("The Death Clock")) but later went on to persue psychological and social themes. Among her later works are Mörker och blåbärsris ("Darkness and Blueberries"), set in northern Sweden, and Händelser vid vatten (
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