First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Anne Mette Hancock, andCrooked Lane Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
After her series debut piqued my interest, I returned for another ARC by Anne Mette Hancock. A Danish psychological thriller, the story works in ways that force me to look outside my traditional expectations for novels in the genre. Full of local flavouring, Hancock develops a piece that is sure to intrigue many readers, though I am not sure if the original Danish was more impactful from a linguistic point of view.
After the disappearance of a young boy from his school, the authorities in Copenhagen are on high alert. Lukas was gifted in ways that exceeded academia; he obsessed over pareidolia, where one sees faces in inanimate objects. After scouring Lukas’ possessions, they discover a photo of a barn door with what could be a face in the shadows. Might this be a clue to his whereabouts? Journalist Heloise Kaldan thinks that she might be able to help, but struggles with locating the source of the barn.
After the grisly discovery of Lukas’ jacket, the forensics points to a former soldier with a mountain of issues all his own. Could Thomas Strand have abducted Lukas for some twisted reason? What was the endgame in all of this and how did it all take place? While Heloise Kaldan works with the authorities, including Detective Erik Schäfer, little comes together, However, once Strand is found executed in his apartment, the case takes on deeper and more sinister panic.
A missing child, an executed soldier with mental health issues, and this lingering pareidolia. How did it all come together so swiftly? While Schäfer and Kaldan try to piece it all together, they have some personal demons that must come to the surface or risk ruing their ability to successfully manage the case. In a gripping piece that has moments where the reader will surely gasp aloud, Hancock creates a chilling tale with a tense ending for all to enjoy!
While I do read a number of Scandinavian thrillers, I would not call myself an expert, That said, I know what I like and which books I am happy to push to the side. Anne Mette Hancock has all the ingredients for a strong piece, though there were times I felt it lacking. I contemplated what it could be and wonde if the translation was not as crisp as I would have liked. I know that with many books that face the translation mountain, I cannot tell where the seams are located. However, with this one, they were all too apparent, leaving things slightly jilted.
The key to a strong thriller is to begin with a bang. Hancock does that with the disappearance of a young child, as well as some of the subplots related to the protagonists. She pulls the reader in and uses her narrative abilities to build on the story from there. Once things are strong from a foundational point of view, Hancock is able to incorporate strong characters and key plot twists to keep the story moving. I felt as though I were on the streets of Copenhagen throughout and never left the scene of the crime, which exemplifies Hancock’s abilities. I am eager to see if there will be more to this series, which I may give one more chance, as the translation proves a yoke to my overall enjoyment.
Kudos, Madam Hancock, for another intriguing piece. I am curious where things are headed now.