Fans of Bernard Minier are in for a treat with the release of the latest translated novel in the Commandant Martin Servaz series. A great psychological thriller that taps into the darker side of the genre, this book offers some wonderful twists and ties-off some loose ends that have been left in past novels. When Kirsten Nigaard is call out to the scene of a crime in rural Norway, she can only hope it will be a simple solve. An officer in the national major crime squad, Kripos, Nigaard comes upon a woman who was murdered atop a church alter. Some of the preliminary clues point to a suspect aboard a Norwegian offshore oil rig, necessitating a visit in poor weather. Nigaard works through her investigation, locating the likely culprit, though he slips through her fingers. Nigaard tosses his room, finding a number of photos of a man who appears to be a police officer in France, as well as a photo of a young boy, marked with ‘Gustav’ on the back. It would seem Nigaard is off to France to expand her search. Meanwhile, Commandant Martin Servaz is working a case with his team when he is serious injured on the job. Shot in the heart, Servaz almost dies, but not before causing series physical damage to the suspect. As he convalesces in hospital, Servaz is made aware of Kirsten Nigaard’s arrival, seeking to better understand why he might be featured in the aforementioned photo collection. Servaz pieces a few things together and realises that his long-time arch-nemesis, Julian Hirtmann, is back, lurking in the shadows. It is likely that this Gustav is Hirtmann’s son, potentially the offspring of a past captor he held, who happened to be Servaz’s love interest. Ignoring medical advice, Servaz works with Nigaard to locate Gustav, who has been attending school in the community. There are some disturbing ties to Hirtmann, something that Servaz cannot ignore. The hunt is on for Hirtmann, as Servaz seeks to bring him to justice with the help of his new partner. However, this game of cat and mouse is complicated when someone has been trying to frame Servaz for another crime, forcing additional delays. Using young Gustav to coax Julian Hirtmann out of the shadows, Servaz can only hope that this will be his chance to bring a serial killer to justice. However, there are significant factors complicating matters, things that Servaz could not have predicted, but should have expected from his arch-nemesis. Many lives hang in the balance and pride cannot play a deciding factor. Minier brings readers another wonderful novel that is as exciting as it is dark. Fans of Commandant Martin Servaz will want to get their hands on this one in short order.
I stumbled upon this series when I was on a binge of international police procedurals penned in languages other than English. The series gripped me from the outset and has only become more entertaining the further I go. The fact that this is a translated piece does not play a factor, as the narrative flows as if there were no linguistic impediments whatsoever. Commandant Martin Servaz proves to be a character who continues to develop throughout this series, building on both how he continues to grow and some of the backstory the reader discovers. Servaz has seen much in this series and experienced even more, allowing readers to sympathise with the man as he seeks to chase down one of the worst killers Europe has ever seen. As Servaz tackles complex cases that put him in danger on a regular basis, he does not stand down. The introduction of Kirsten Nigaard offers series fans a look at a new face in the investigative service, bringing her Norwegian background into the middle of this complex narrative. The contrast between the two protagonists and their policing techniques offers the reader a wonderful comparative opportunity. Nigaard has her own story and the reader is sure to find a connection to her throughout, though it is her interaction with Servaz and others that proves the most interesting. Others, including Julian Hirtmann, grace the pages of this novel, offering a well-developed plot and adding flavour to an already wonderful series. The narrative pushes forward with a few criminal plot lines that develop the further the story progresses. Servaz finds himself in the middle of a few investigations, though could not have predicted some of the twists that befall him. These unpredictable parts of the narrative offer the reader some wonderful aspects to help strengthen the series and leave even more questions by the end. Minier is a masterful storyteller and the reader is able to discover the depths he will go to provide a stellar novel for his adoring fans.
Kudos, Monsieur Minier, for a powerful novel in this splendid series. I just wish I did not have to wait so long for the next novel to make its way into an English publication.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons