(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Brekke makes his U.S. debut with this engrossing crime novel that was a best seller in his native Norway. A murder in the United States and one in Norway share disturbing similarities-both victims were flayed while alive and seem to have some connection to a 16th-century book called The Book of John, which is notable for being bound in human skin. In Virginia, Det. Felicia Stone investigates the murder of the curator of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, while in Trondheim, Norway, Insp. Odd Singsaker searches for the killer of a librarian found dead in the library's rare book vault. When Stone realizes that her case may be connected to the Norwegian crime, she travels to Trondheim to work with Singsaker, and the chase for a sadistic killer ensues. VERDICT With grisly murders investigated by likable detectives, this mystery is perfectly grim without being bleak and is a welcome addition to the popular "Nordic noir" subgenre. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/13.]-Melissa DeWild, Kent District Lib., Comstock Park, MI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
There's a bleakness to current Nordic noir that can make the reader wonder if the tone accurately reflects the Scandinavian soul, or if the authors (following Stieg Larsson) are being intentionally over the top. For example, a character in this Norwegian best-seller spends time, as he sips his morning coffee, closely observing a fly slowly die, noting that the fly's death has lasted through his third cup. This sets the tone for an unrelievedly bleak mystery. The fly gets off easy compared to the human victims, current and historic, recorded here. Two beyond-grotesque deaths occur, one at the Edgar Allan Poe museum in Richmond, Virginia; the other at the Gunnerus Library in Trondheim, Norway. The buildup to each murder is extraordinarily well done and almost unbearably suspenseful. What connects them is the journal (made out of human skin, naturally) of a medieval mendicant monk who was also a serial killer; Brekke gives us excerpts from the journal throughout. The investigation and investigators in the U.S. and Norway make this less of a horror story and more credible. On the whole, the novel lives up to the edginess of this genre. Brrrr.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist