Summary and book reviews of Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc

Forty Days Without Shadow

An Arctic Thriller

by Olivier Truc

Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc X
Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2014, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 480 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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About this Book

Book Summary

Tomorrow, the sun will rise for the first time in 40 days. Thirty minutes of daylight will herald the end of the polar night. But in the last hours of darkness, a precious artifact is stolen . . .

Tomorrow, the sun will rise for the first time in 40 days. Thirty minutes of daylight will herald the end of the polar night in Kautokeino, a small village in northern Norway, home to the indigenous Sami people.

But in the last hours of darkness, a precious artifact is stolen: an ancient Sami drum. The most important piece in the museum's collection, it was due to go on tour with a UN exhibition in a few short weeks.

Hours later, a man is murdered. Mattis, one of the last Sami reindeer herders, is found dead in his gumpy.

Are the two crimes connected? In a town fraught with tension - between the indigenous Samis fighting to keep their culture alive, the ultra-Lutheran Scandinavian colonists concerned with propagating their own religion, and the greedy geologists eager to mine the region's ore deposits - it falls to two local police officers to solve the crimes. Klemet Nango, an experienced Sami officer, and Nina Nansen, his much younger partner from the south of Norway, must find the perpetrators before it's too late...

Prologue

1693, Central Lapland

Aslak stumbled, a sign of exhaustion. He never missed his footing otherwise. The old man kept a firm hold on the package he was carrying. He rolled forward, head over heels. A clump of heather broke the force of his fall. A lemming darted out. Aslak got to his feet. Glancing back, he estimated his advance on his pursuers. The baying was louder now. There was little time left. He continued his silent race. His deep-set eyes burned brightly. His gaunt features and jutting cheekbones gave him a mysterious, hieratic air. He ran on, sure-footed now, trusting to instinct, working his body hard. He smiled and quickened his breathing, feeling fleet and light, sharpeyed, infallible. He knew he would not fall now. Knew, too, that he would not survive this mild and gentle night. They had been tracking him for a long while. It had to end.

He took in every detail of his surroundings: the high plateau, the ancient commotion transfixed in the rocks, the sinuous ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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The breathtaking beauty of Sápmi, of the Arctic tundra, is the real scene-stealer. Almost every chapter begins by noting the date and the minutes of sunlight received. Tuesday, January 11, for example, receives 27 minutes of sunlight. There is cold and then there is Kautokeino cold. That the locals zip around on their snowmobiles and skis anyway, is a testament to our capacity to endure even the harshest conditions. The panoramic setting, the Northern Lights, the snow-draped landscape - together make for a heady mix which is alone worth the price of admission...continued

Full Review (646 words).

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(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Media Reviews

New York Journal of Books
A book you will not forget. A powerful, ingenious piece of crime noir.

L'Unita
A beautiful thriller that carries us away to a mysterious land.

Morning Star (UK)
It's always a pleasure to encounter a really unusual setting for crime fiction, but novelty alone is no good - it needs a decent story to go with it. Luckily, Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc scores both ways...This dense but tense thriller is full of local color.

Peterborough Telegraph (UK)
The bone-numbing cold of a snowy vastness underlines a chilling story. 8 stars.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. . Fascinating details, including the rift between the snowmobile lobby and the reindeer herders, enhance the fast-moving plot. Truc brings an obscure part of the world to vivid life.

Library Journal
Short-listed for the Crime Writers' Association International Dagger 2014, this atmospheric thriller leaves a lasting impression with its depiction of an ancient culture under pressure from the modern world.

Télérama magazine, "Best Crime Novels of 2012"
Against the backdrop of the polar night, ancient religious traditions, and the fierce rivalries of reindeer-herders, Olivier Truc's remarkable, triumphant thriller is far more than a colourful stroll through an exotic culture.

Librairie l'usage du monde
A powerful 'Nordic' thriller... At last, a French writer has succeeded in reviving the genre, in fine style. I can't remember the last time I read a truly dark, gripping crime novel by a home-grown author.

Livres Hebdo
A dark, highly original novel.

Reader Reviews

FictionZeal

FictionZeal.com reviews Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc
Reindeer herders. Now, there’s a term you don’t hear every day. In Kautokeino, a village in central Lapland, there are still reindeer herders and Reindeer Police to keep peace between the herders and monitor how many reindeer are kept in each herd....   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Sami Religion

Sami ShamanForty Days Without Shadow sheds light on the native Sami people of northern Norway, most of whom are Lutherans. The Sami also take part in shamanic rituals that emphasize strong connections between the natural and spiritual worlds, although Christianity has been slowly making inroads over the centuries forcing the practice of the native religion underground.

A central aspect of the Sami shamanic rituals is the usage of drums as a conduit to channel spirits. The Sami also used a drum to forecast weather and other natural events. In fact, Mattis Labba, the Sami who is killed in the story, has ancestors who were skilled in such practices. They channeled higher spirits through use of a drum, a skill Labba did not fully learn, even though ...

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