Soren Sveistrup's new novel The Chestnut Man. Those few black strokes conjure up something ominous... And then I discovered that Sveistrup was the creator and screenwriter of The Killing - a show I really enjoyed. And I knew I was a for a really great read!
A killer is on the loose in Copenhagen. His signature? A small little man made of chestnuts and matchsticks left at every murder. Forensics makes a startling discovery - the fingerprint of the daughter of a high ranking politician is on each one. Trouble is - she's been missing for a year.
Great premise and I was hooked. But what makes or breaks a great premise are the protagonists. I'm happy to say that Sveistrup has created a great pair in Detectives Thulin and Hess. Thulin is a single mother balancing parenting and detecting. She's tough, intelligent, happy to work on her own and doesn't suffer fools. But that's what she fears she's been paired with when she inherits Hess from Europol. He has messed up there and until things are cleared, he's assigned to partner with Thulin in the Major Crimes Division in Copenhagen. But, really Hess just wants to coast until he can get back to Europol - where he also coasts along. This pair reminded me a bit of the two detectives in The Killing. Seemingly polar opposites. But as things progress, they grudgingly start to work together. I really enjoyed this pairing - and hopefully they cross paths again in another novel.
Their work is cut out for them. The case is hindered by politicos and complicated by multiple suspects. Just when I thought I had sussed out the killer was, another possibility popped up. I quite enjoyed being led down the garden path. And I have to say, I was surprised by the final answers. Well done. (Which I really appreciate as I read a lot of mysteries).
The ending has a nice little gotcha that opens things up for a possible follow-up. A wonderfully dark and gritty read for those who love Scandi noir (puts hand up). See for yourself -read an excerpt of The Chestnut Man. (And on a side note, Netflix is making a series based on this book).