Everything is Mine, by Ruth Lillegraven

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ruth Lillegraven, and Amazon Crossing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

There’s nothing like a little mystery to keep a family on its toes. Such is the case in this latest piece by Ruth Lillegraven, in which a couple is pulled apart not only by their work, but a long-standing disinterest in one another. When a man is found murdered at a hospital, one is fingered as the prime suspect, only to profess their innocence. Everything is Mine is an apt title for this piece, though one wrong move and it could all disappear.

Clara and Henrik have a somewhat quiet life on the outskirts of Oslo, where they enjoy time with their twin boys. While they seem to have a routine between them, neither is all that happy in the relationship, or so it seems. Henrik is a doctor in the A&E, specialising in paediatric medicine, while Clara is a politician with a bright future. Their independent spheres serve them well, as the narrative depicts throughout.

When an angry father brings in an unconscious young boy directly to Henrik at work, something is amiss. The father insists that it was a fall from a tree, but something is not adding up. A major brain bleed and countless bruises of various ages cover the boys body. Rushed into surgery, everyone tries their best, but the boy cannot be saved. Henrik knows it was child abuse, but allows his mind to drift and does not report it to the authorities. During a brief confrontation, Henrik directs the father to a prayer room, what little good it will do him.

When the authorities arrive soon thereafter, Henrik is kicking himself, sure that they are here to discuss the abuse. However, it is the murder of the father outside the prayer room that has everyone buzzing. Henrik has not hidden his disdain for the man, but says that he knows nothing about the murder.

Meanwhile, Clara has been trying to get a piece of legislation through parliament that deals with protecting children of abuse. While it is scuttled by the Minister of Justice and Prime Minister, Clara cannot help but wonder if there is something more going on. She is determined to ensure it sees the floor for debate, but is stonewalled at every turn.

When another body turns up close to where Henrik found himself after his shift, he is taken into custody and questioned extensively. While there, more bodies turn up, at a time when Henrik could not have acted. Could his innocence hinge on these ongoing murders? How will Clara react when she learns the truth and what can she do to keep her job from overtaking her? Lillegraven reveals it all as the story reaches its climax.

Having never read anything by Ruth Lillegraven previously, I was intrigued to see how things would go with this book. I found myself highly impressed with the writing, even in translation, and sped through the book to see how it all came together. This is certainly an author well worth my time and I will have to see what else she has to entertain me.

Henrik proves to be the central character in this piece. He struggles with his life, not only as a doctor, but a father and an almost forgotten husband. He is by no means innocent in the marriage, having been stepping out for a long time, though feels it is justified because of how poorly Clara treats him. When faced with adversity, Henrik buckles down and shows his true colours, though they are sometimes muted by those around him.

Lillegraven uses a strong cast of secondary characters to tell her story, pushing a gripping murder mystery into the middle of a busy emergency room. She’s apt to pull on a great cross-section of characters throughout the piece, many of whom come together nicely to fit into the nooks and crannies of this piece. The reader need not worry about a lack of perspectives, as many of these characters offer their own narratives throughout.

The story was easy to follow and kept me entertained throughout. I cannot say that there was a time I was checking my watch or tapping my toe. Lillegraven constructs a powerful piece on chid abuse and builds it from there, keeping the reader wondering throughout. With a strong narrative that takes in the perspectives of many, the story pushes forward through short chapters. Questions arise at various points in the story, answered only by forging ahead and waiting to see what else is to come.

Kudos, Madam Lillegraven, for a thrilling mystery like no other. I cannot wait to see what else you have written and whether they match up to this piece.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons