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The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstøl
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The Land of Dreams (2008)

by Vidar Sundstøl

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Minnesota Trilogy (1)

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English (8)  Norwegian (3)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I have to wonder if the translation is to blame here.

This book is less of a gripping crime thriller than a meditation on the ways one's sense of self is intertwined with place, history, and folk. And that's fine -- in fact, I'm probably more inclined to enjoy the latter than the former. But this type of novel demands evocative writing, and I found the prose to be anything but. It's bland to the point of banal. We are treated to excruciatingly detailed descriptions of everything the characters do, whether or not those descriptions do anything to advance either the plot or the aforementioned philosophical questions. We get conversations between characters that manage to be both stilted and painfully mundane all at once. And we get the trope of having the protagonists' every emotion spelled out for us in detail, which I thought was the first thing any aspiring writer learned not to do.

So this is where I wonder if something was lost in translation. If I was more taken with the prose, I could have enjoyed the book (though it certainly still has moments where it is repetitive or forced). Maybe it works better in the native Norwegian. ( )
  iangreenleaf | Sep 19, 2017 |
To be published in October in the UK I was fortunate to get an advance proof of this book. Garnished with accolades such as award wins and revered as one of the best Norwegian crime novels of all time, this book had a reputation up to live up to.

Set in Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Superior, the book looks at the lives of the local communities; both the local people who are mainly of scandanavian origin and the native Ojibway. A brutal murder occurs in which a Norwegian man is beaten to death and the main suspect is his travelling companion. Investigated by Nyland, a police officer from Norway, the murder forms a backdrop to the bigger themes.

The main character is Lance Hansen, a park officer, who finds the body and is interested in local history. He becomes obsessed with the disappearance of an Ojibway man a hundred years ago and the potential link to his family. Similarly he realises through the course of the book that the murder of the Norwegian may be solved close to home.

Beautifully written (and translated) this book explores the themes of family and culture and is less of a crime novel and more of a literary novel. It makes one think and that is no bad thing - a very good book. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
OK brooding murder mystery. The book could have ended 3 chapters early, but I guess to make it a real Norwegian book the last 3 chapters were needed to show how the protagonist agonized over his decision.
We hear so much about what Lance thinks and feels that there is little room for police/inspector action. You wonder what the police are doing, and why did an inspector have to come from Norway for this.
Lot of loose ends (marital problems that indicate infidelity, discovery of mixed blood heritage, who else may be homosexual) but I guess that sets us up for the trilogy. I'll just have to live with the unknowns, since this was too brooding for my taste, despite enjoying reading about the north woods culture. However, if you are at all familiar with the area, you can skip most of chapter 9-historic info dump that doesn't really add to understanding. ( )
  juniperSun | Feb 8, 2015 |
bookshelves: autumn-2013, mystery-thriller, norway, net-galley, published-2008, translation
Read from October 30 to 31, 2013


Uncorrected proof from University of Minnesota Press

From the description: The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered near a stone cross on the shore of Lake Superior. Another Norwegian man is nearby; covered in blood and staring out across the lake, he can only utter the word kjærlighet. Love.

**phonetically that would be 'shareligt'.**

Opening: The lake glittered in the sunlight. Seemingly endless, far in the distance it merged with the sky.

This story is set just right for Norwegian migrant descendents based in Minnesota today. Ladies and Gentlemen, a recipe:

- Lake Superior scenery
- a feeling of the history of this land in north America, their settlement
- add in some ever popular Nordic crime
- and top it off with a dose of sentimental Old Country reflections

Should be good to go...

...except that is not quite the case here, it will read a little flopped-soufflé to connoisseurs; somewhat undercooked, even pasty in comparison to how this oeuvre has evolved - readers have been spoilt recently with some top-drawer material.

However, whilst Vidar Sundstøl does not possess the verve of Lars Saabye Christensen, Jan Kjærstad or Jo Nesbø this is a good enough story to curl up with in front of a crackling fire on a late autumn evening, especially if there is a glow from the moon sifting through the swirling fogs above the waters of a lake, and an inexplicable Swamper Caribou-esque flicker of the tea-light inside the carved pumkin.

Best line: How do you tell an extroverted Finn - he is looking at your shoes instead of his own. Boom Boom.

2.5* ( )
  mimal | Jan 1, 2014 |
This is the first volume in the Minnesota Trilogy by Vidar Sundstøl, a Norwegian author who spent two years living on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The Land of Dreams will be followed by Only the Dead (2014) and The Raven (2015). After reading the first, I’m impatient to read the rest.

As the novel opens, Lance Hansen, a forest ranger who patrols the national forest that occupies so much of Cook County, a vast wedge of land stretching between the lake and the Canadian border, is on his way to speak with campers who have illegally pitched a tent near the lake not far from Baraga’s Cross. This is the kind of work he does – enforcing rules, preventing people from dumping garbage on public land, organizing search parties when vacationers got lost, occasionally encountering illegal logging or hidden meth labs. Nothing too dramatic. But this morning will be different.

"He parked his service vehicle at the end of the road and got out. It was 7:28. In front of him stretched Lake Superior. There was nothing to see but light and water and sky – no opposite shore on which to fix his eyes, just the illusory meeting of sky and the surface of the water far off in the distance."

As he heads down the path toward the granite marker that marks the spot where a European missonary once erected a wooden cross after surviving a stormy crossing in 1846, he finds a shoe and a handprint marking where someone fell. Then, as he gets closer to the cross, he sees a bare leg sticking out. A naked man is sitting against the cross, covered in blood and muttering something inaudible. The intonation seems familiar and Hansen realizes he’s speaking Norwegian. Only one word is audible: kjærlighet. Love.

Hansen finds another man not far away, bludgeoned to death. Soon the county’s sheriff arrives. Homicide isn’t a crime they’ve handled much. In fact, there hadn’t been a murder in Cook County in the 25 years he’s been its sheriff. Because the crime occured on federal land, an FBI agent is summoned fom the St. Paul field office, and he is soon joined by a Norwegian detective. Hansen’s involvement in the investigation is over – though there is one thing he’s holding back. He’d seen a familiar truck near the cross, one belonging to his brother Andy, who he understand less than his immigrant ancestors, whose history is stored in binders on floor-to-ceiling shelves in Hansen’s home office.

As the unofficial county historian, Hansen feels more comfortable in the past, and as the FBI agent and his Norwegian colleague try to discover whether a tourist killed his companion or whether someone else was responsible, Hansen becomes fascinated by old news accounts of a body found near the same place in 1892, It could have been the body of an Ojibwe medicine man named Swamper Caribou who’d gone missing earlier, a disappearance that may be connected to an old family story about a fifteen-year-old boy crossing the lake on a winter night – and possibly to Hansen’s dream of walking under the frozen surface of Lake Superior.

The Land of Dreaams, beautifully translated by Tiinna Nunnally, is an evocative novel that draws together past and present, the lives of immigrants and the indigenous inhabitants of the North Shore, American dreams and suppressed violence hidden behind calm exteriors and polite silences. In some ways this sounds like Karin Fossum’s explorations of the squirmy things living under the rocks of peaceful small towns in Norway, but in tone and style it’s far closer to Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet, which combines an atmospheric natural setting with pscychologically probing portraits and a very light touch of the supernatural.

I’m not surprised that it was awarded the Riverton Prize. It’s a very good book. I admit that I particularly enjoyed a setting that is familiar to me – just a few weeks before reading this book we traveled to the places where the story is set. Even if you haven’t been to the North Shore, this book will provide you with an interesting journey. The only problem is that you’ll want to return as soon as possible, as there is obviously more to the story.
  bfister | Oct 10, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vidar Sundstølprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nunnally, TiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
PercolatorCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Innskjøen glitret i solskinnet.
The lake glittered in the sunlight.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0816689407, Hardcover)


Winner of the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel and named by Dagbladet as one of the top twenty-five Norwegian crime novels of all time, The Land of Dreams is the chilling first installment in Vidar Sundstøl’s critically acclaimed Minnesota Trilogy, set on the rugged north shore of Lake Superior and in the region’s small towns and deep forests.


The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered near a stone cross on the shore of Lake Superior. Another Norwegian man is nearby; covered in blood and staring out across the lake, he can only utter the word kjærlighet. Love.


FBI agent Bob Lecuyer is assigned to the case, as is Norwegian detective Eirik Nyland, who is immediately flown in from Oslo. As the investigation progresses, Lance begins making shocking discoveries—including one that involves the murder of an Ojibwe man on the very same site more than one hundred years ago. As Lance digs into two murders separated by a century, he finds the clues may in fact lead toward someone much closer to home than he could have imagined.


The Land of Dreams is the opening chapter in a sweeping chronicle from one of Norway’s leading crime writers—a portrait of an extraordinary landscape, an exploration of hidden traumas and paths of silence that trouble history, and a haunting study in guilt and the bonds of blood.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

" Winner of the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel and named by Dagbladet as one of the top twenty-five Norwegian crime novels of all time, The Land of Dreams is the chilling first installment in Vidar Sundstøl's critically acclaimed Minnesota Trilogy, set on the rugged north shore of Lake Superior and in the region's small towns and deep forests. The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered near a stone cross on the shore of Lake Superior. Another Norwegian man is nearby; covered in blood and staring out across the lake, he can only utter the word kjærlighet. Love. FBI agent Bob Lecuyer is assigned to the case, as is Norwegian detective Eirik Nyland, who is immediately flown in from Oslo. As the investigation progresses, Lance begins to make shocking discoveries--including one that involves the murder of an Ojibwe man on the very same site more than one hundred years ago. As Lance digs into two murders separated by a century, he finds the clues may in fact lead toward someone much closer to home than he could have imagined. The Land of Dreams is the opening chapter in a sweeping chronicle from one of Norway's leading crime writers--a portrait of an extraordinary landscape, an exploration of hidden traumas and paths of silence that trouble history, and a haunting study in guilt and the bonds of blood. "--… (more)

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