The Darkest Room

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 9/29/2009
  • Publisher: Delta

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Winner of Sweden's Best Crime Novel Award, "The Darkest Room" is the latest thriller from the bestselling author of "Echoes from the Dead."

Author Biography

Johan Theorin was born in 1963 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and has spent every summer of his life on northern Oland. He is a journalist and scriptwriter. His second novel, Night Blizzard, will be published by Delacorte in 2009.


Chapter One

A high voice called through the dark rooms.


The cry made him jump. Sleep was like a cave filled with strange echoes, warm and dark, and waking up quickly was painful. For a second his consciousness could not come up with a name or a place, just confused memories and thoughts. Ethel? No, not Ethel, but . . . Katrine, Katrine. And a pair of eyes blinking in bewilderment, seeking light in the blackness.

A second later his own name suddenly floated up from his memory: Joakim Westin. And he was lying in the double bed in Eel Point manor house on northern Oland.

Joakim was at home. He had been living here for one day. His wife, Katrine, and their two children had been living on the estate for two months, while he himself had only just arrived.

1:23. The red digits on the clock radio provided the only light in the windowless room.

The sounds that had woken Joakim could no longer be heard, but he knew they were real. He had heard muffled complaints or whimpers from someone sleeping uneasily in another part of the house.
A motionless body lay beside him in the double bed. It was Katrine; she was sleeping deeply and had crept toward the edge of the bed, taking her coverlet with her. She was lying with her back to him, but he could see the gentle contours of her body and he could feel her warmth. She had been sleeping alone in here for almost two months-Joakim had been living and working in Stockholm, coming to visit every other weekend. Neither of them had found it easy.

He stretched a hand out toward Katrine's back, but then he heard the cry once again.


This time he recognized Livia's high voice. It made him throw aside the cover and get out of bed.

The tiled stove in one corner of the bedroom was still radiating heat, but the wooden floor was freezing cold as he put his feet on it. They needed to change things around and insulate the bedroom floor as they had done in the kitchen and the children's rooms, but that would have to be a project for the new year. They could get more rugs to see them through the winter. And wood. They needed to find a supply of cheap wood for the stoves, because there was no forest on the estate where they could go and cut their own.

He and Katrine needed to buy a whole lot of things for the house before the real cold weather set in-tomorrow they would have to start making lists.

Joakim held his breath and listened. Not a sound now.

His dressing gown was hanging over a chair, and he put it on quietly over his pajama trousers, stepped between two boxes they hadn't unpacked yet, and crept out.

He immediately went the wrong way in the darkness. In their house in Stockholm he always turned right to go to the children's rooms, but here they were to the left.

Joakim and Katrine's bedroom was small, part of the manor house's enormous cave system. Outside was a corridor with several cardboard boxes stacked up against one wall, and it ended in a large hall with several windows. They faced onto the paved inner courtyard, which was flanked by the two wings of the house.

The manor house at Eel Point was closed off to the land, but open toward the sea. Joakim went over to the windows in the hall and looked out toward the coast beyond the fence.

A red light was flashing down there, coming from the twin lighthouses on their little islands out at sea. The beam of the southern lighthouse swept over piles of seaweed at the water's edge and far out into the Baltic, while the northern tower was completely dark. Katrine had told him that the northern lighthouse was never lit.

He heard the wind howling around the house and saw restless shadows rising down by the lighthouses. Waves. They always made him think of Ethel, despite the fact that it wasn't the waves but the cold that had killed her.

It was only ten months ago.

Excerpted from The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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