Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Tunnel - Carl Johan Vallgren


Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Info: Paperback, Noir Thriller, 341pp

Buy/Read Now (links): Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads

Rating: 4/5

Audience: Readers who enjoy the grittier and gut-wrenching side of noir thriller novels. Those with a weak stomach need not apply.

Summed up in a few words: Turbulent. Direct. Rapid.

First Impressions: I have never read any Scandinavian Thriller fiction before so this book was my gateway into that branch of books. Just from The Tunnel  I can say that I am both impressed and a little of scared of the genre. This is a pretty decent noir thriller piece, what takes it to the next level is the fact that the author goes all out with the detail and it creates an intense and stomach turning experience. This book is not for the faint hearted, but if you are still with me then onto the review!

Book Synopsis: Private investigator Danny Katz is trying to track down his former drug dealer. Ramon and his girlfriend Jenny have both vanished, leaving behind a lot of unanswered questions. How come Ramon suddenly found himself in possession of the mother-load of drugs? And is Jenny really who she claims to be?

Katz's investigation leads him to the darkest corners of Stockholm's porn industry and once again his old addiction threatens to control him. Ultimately only one thing deems certain - someone is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Katz from discovering the brutal truth.

The Tunnel is the sensational new noir thriller from one of Sweden's most loved writers.


Carl-Johan Vallgren is ruthless mastermind. With huge, multi-layered plot lines and graphic and heart-wrenching imagery, The Tunnel is a fast paced, traumatic run through Stockholm's gruesome underworld. 

Jorma, an ex criminal, is contacted by an old friend with a opportunity to make some quick cash via a robbery of a transit van. Putting his 'too good to be true' gut instinct aside to help Zohan, Jorma agrees to participate. After the cops show up in time to catch the team mid-robbery, Jorma manages to escape with his life and is left injured and wanted by the police. 

Katz is ten years sober and working as a security consultant, he is constantly cornered by his own addiction. Seeking out an old friend and indirectly obtaining the drugs he desires, he never gets the chance to indulge as he is pulled into the search for his dead friend's missing partner Jennifer. His search takes him into the darkest depths of Stockholm's criminal underworld and Katz finds him in the middle of a scenario that he can't even start to comprehend on his own.

Eva is a workaholic, troubled mother who struggles with sex addiction. Katz comes to her looking for help with a missing persons case and she offers to help him with the information she can obtain via her job as a city prosecutor. With a knowledge of gang/criminal behaviour, she is a valuable asset to the search, but as the case unravels so does she.

The Tunnel is a non-stop, heart racing story. The pacing is so swift that you barely get a breather all the way through! As I said before I have not read any Scandinavian Thriller fiction so I don't have much to compare this book to, but if this is a trend then I will most certainly return to the genre. CJV kept my attention all the way through his 300+ novel and not always in a good way. 

The imagery and themes in this book are truly haunting and CJV does not pull any punches, everything is on display here and it does get too much at times (for me anyway). If you are looking for fiction that is one or two shades of dark too many then this book is for you! I am not saying that the intensity is a negative point, it is there to create an atmosphere and potency that definitely works, but I am just a weakling.

There are strong themes throughout this book. From sex/violence, torture, drug addiction, antisemitism and more. This book is tough, but it all adds to overall experience when reading this book, CJV only uses what he needs to, just enough to fuel the characters and shock the readers. All the characters within these pages are troubled, Jorma wants to get out of the criminal circuit and sustain his life legitimately. Katz is forever battling addiction, even 10 years down the line. He is also searching for answers about his father and his Jewish heritage. Eva is desperate to be a great mother but one addiction after another stands in her way. These characters are by no means pushovers, they are willing to fight for their lives and each other.

I loved the pacing and plot structure. Breaking up the chapters into characters and keeping the momentum consistent between episodes was impressive and kept me reading. I was not a fan of the darker themes in this book but that is a personal choice and does not reflect badly on the author. I was minutely frustrated with the last act of this book, CJV builds so much tension up to a certain point and then when you are desperate for answers he skips ahead and lets those answers trickle out to the reader through each characters final moments in the book. Grrrrrr. 

CJV is a craftsman of darkness and I very much look forward to reading more of his work. This book did shake me quite a bit, I experienced, fear, adrenaline, admiration and frustration, but overall I finished the book impressed and ready to read more of Carl-Johan Vallgren's work. Check out the book! Enjoy! Thank you for reading, please leave a comment telling me what you thought of the review.

About The Author: Carl-Johan Vallgren is one of Sweden's best-loved writers. He has been awarded the Swedish August Prize for Best Novel of the Year, and his books have been translated into twenty-five languages. He's also a talented musician with Warner Music. (Official Book Bio)

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