Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: The Land of Dreams

The Land of Dreams
The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstol
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had received a copy of The Land of Dreams from NetGalley.

Lance Hanson is a Law Enforcement Officer for the Forest Service which means that he works for a national park near Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. His job is to catch those hunting without a license, making sure no one sets up tents in places where they should not, and other similar tasks. His life is nothing like a city policeman though he has received the same training as other cops. His job is just quieter and simpler in a way.

Lance lives alone. He had been married once, to an Ojibway woman, but had been divorced. He has a son who lives with his ex-wife. He had been close to his ex-father-in-law up till the divorce. He has a strained relationship with his brother though they hunt deer together once a year. 

All that changes when he tries to investigate a tip about a tent located in an illegal spot within the forest. He finds a naked man seated so quietly on Baraga's Cross that he initially thought the man was dead. When he approached the man, he learned that he was very much alive though in deep shock. Then he comes across another naked man, only this time it is a dead body. Things in Lance's quiet corner of the world just got more dangerous and complicated.

The investigation is being handled by the FBI as the murder occurred on Federal land. A policeman from Norway has also come in to observe as the victim was Norwegian. Lance is a key witness as he had found the body.

The Land of Dreams is a psychological murder mystery which also studies how our past affects us and our relationships. The pace of the story is rather slow (really slow). There are two parallel storylines. The first story is that of the murder and the second is that of Lance's past.

Lance Hansen is also known as the town historian as he has a vast archive of records dating back to the first settlers of the area. He is a descendant of the Norwegian immigrants that travelled to the New World to start their lives anew. Lance seems to be caught up in the story that he had been told many times when he was a child -- the story of a Norwegian boy who, in the dead of winter, travelled on his own to find his aunt and uncle. The boy was barely alive when he reached his aunt and uncle's home and it was said that he had fallen into the freezing lake. This occurred about the time that an Ojibway medicine man went missing.

Lance become's almost obsessed with the story because one of his co-workers had mentioned that the dead Norwegian is probably the very first murder they have had in the area. When Lance checks the archives, he finds that there have been no previous records of any previous murders at all. The only mystery he thinks might have been a murder is the disappearance of a Native American medicine man.

The author does a very good job of communicating the thoughts and feelings that Lance has all throughout the story. Though the story unfolds at such a snail's pace, the book is readable and interesting.

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