The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstøl

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18874087

Series: Minnesota Trilogy #1

Kindle Edition, 344 pages

Published: September 22, 2013 by the University Of Minnesota Press (1st published 2008)

Setting: Lake Superior, Minnesota

Literary Awards: Glass Key Award Nominee (2009), Rivertonprisen (2008)

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Lance Hansen, a US Forest Service officer and passionate amateur geneologist, feels a deep connection to the land and to his ancestors, who were Norwegian immigrants. His life changes when he finds a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered. Another Norwegian man is nearby. Covered in blood and suffering from shock, he says only one word: kjærlighet — love.

Norwegian detective Eirik Nyland arrives from Oslo to help federal agents with the case. Meanwhile, Lance has suspicions about the murder which he withholds from Nyland and from the FBI. He is torn between a desire to fulfill his duty and the sense of loyalty that compels him to keep secrets.

Meanwhile Lance is delving into a mystery, over 100 years old, involving one of his Norwegian ancestors and the disappearance of an Ojibwe man. These historical events and the present murder intersect in unexpected ways.

This is a slow-paced novel that lingers on character development and carefully observed descriptions of Lake Superior’s north shore. At times, it blurs the lines between experience, memory, and dreams. The slow pace fits the style and content of this novel. I enjoyed the vivid glimpses of the area and the forays into Norwegian and Ojibwe culture, and I plan to finish the series.

The Land of Dreams also offers a great deal of historical and cultural detail about the area. It is a rich, intriguing story that delves into the role of familial bonds and family history in our lives, conflict between duty and loyalty, and the walls of denial we erect to protect our perceptions of ourselves and our loved ones.

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