Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Eerie Scandinavian Mystery

A brutal murder in the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia bears an eerie resemblance to the murder of an archivist in a college library in Trondheim Norway. In both cases the corpse has been flayed and the head cut off. Eventually, the similarity of the crimes leads investigators, Felicia Stone form Richmond and Odd Singsaker from Trondheim, to work together to solve the mystery. The case in complicated by a rare book from the 1500s apparently covered in human skin that might have belonged to the first serial killer.

The novel is dark with graphic descriptions of the murder victims. That coupled with the description of the mendicant monk in the 1500s who wrote the rare book makes for a very eerie setting. Although the moving between countries and centuries is interesting, it does make for a rather disjointed presentation in the early chapters. When the detectives begin to work together, the narrative follows a more straightforward course.

The plot contains many clues as well as red herrings. If you like to try to solve the mystery along with the detectives, you have plenty of information to work with.

The novel contains a great many characters. In the early part of the book we get detailed thoughts from many of them. I thought the author spent too much time giving us the thoughts of minor characters thus distracting from the plot, but it did give a more rounded picture of the people involved in the story.

The writing seems stilted at times
, but it's difficult to know whether this is the translation, or the author. Once you get into the story it's not bothersome, but it is a little off putting in the beginning.

If you enjoy a dark mystery, a serial killer, and graphic descriptions, this is a book you'll enjoy.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.