Some Kind Of Peace by Camilla Grebe and Asa Traff
Siri Bergman is terrified of the dark
She lives alone, an hour outside Stockholm where she practices as a psychotherapist, her nearest neighbor far away. Siri tells her friends that she has moved on since her husband died in a diving accident. But when she goes to bed at night, she leaves all the lights on, unable to shake the feeling that someone is watching her.
With the light gone, the darkness creeps inside.
One night she wakes to find the house pitch black, and the torch by her bedside has vanished. Later, the body of one of her young patients is found floating in the water nearby. Thrown headlong into a tense murder investigation, Siri finds herself unable to trust anyone, not even her closest friends. Who can she turn to for answers?
The truth is hidden in the darkness.
Siri is a curious character, it’s almost as though she displays two distinctly different personalities to the outside world. On one hand she is a strong, successful, self-assured doctor, but there is also the other Siri who is beset with doubt, afraid of the dark and still traumatised by the loss of her husband, Stefan. Though these are only two facets of her character there are moments where it seems as though there are two women fighting for control, as they inhabit the same body.
Due to the nature of her work Siri is surrounded by a diverse group of characters, any of whom who could be her mystery stalker. Siri lives in a world where it is the norm for people to lie to themselves and others, or keep many secrets. It is the perfect breeding ground when it comes to obsessive behavior. The identity of the individual who is fixated with her is not revealed until the book’s dying chapters but there are a number of scenes which feature moments directly from their perspective.
The contrasts between the different locations that are used in the story are also extremely effective. They mirror the duality of Siri’s own personality. Stockholm, where she works, is bright and vibrant and full of life while her home in the woods is remote and inaccessible.
I’ve not read a huge amount of Scandinavian fiction, but what I have read always seems to have a raw, stark quality that I really enjoy; this novel is no exception. The sense of isolation that Siri starts to experience as her life begins to spiral out of control is palpable. There is insight into Siri’s mental state is her grasp on her own sanity begins to waver. Imagine being confronted with your worst fear every day and knowing that it was only a matter of time before you would have to experience it again. How could that not have an effect?
I think it’s fair to say that Some Kind of Peace is hardly exploring new ground. A lone character being stalked by a mystery assailant in a remote location is hardly anything new. That said, the quality of the writing does breathe fresh life into proceedings. The growing feeling of discomfort and unease as the slow burning plot unfolds is pervasive. Each chapter ends with the reader getting a tiny glimpse of the entire picture until finally the whole truth is revealed.
It’s difficult to categorize this novel as it feel like it spans multiple genres. Part crime thriller, part psychological horror, and part character study. There are numerous strands woven together to form a compelling whole. If you enjoy fiction that takes time to eek out the tension until it’s almost unbearable, then this is the novel for you, creepy and compelling.
Some Kind of Peace is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now.