Thursday, March 20, 2014

Where Monsters Dwell by Jørgen Brekke

I only got in one read over the weekend but it was a bit of a doozy, Where Monsters Dwell by Jørgen Brekke - a Norwegian thriller that was just released here in the States last month.

Efrahim Bond seemed an unlikely candidate for murder and yet for one killer he's a prime target. His body is found skinned and on display in the garden at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Meanwhile, across the globe another flayed body is found in a locked vault at the Gunnerus Library in Trondheim, Norway. In each case the police involved believe they're dealing with an isolated crime, so it comes as a surprise when Richmond detective Felicia Stone finds a reference to the Gunnerus Library in her case. One quick phone call to Trondheim officer Odd Singsaker confirms the striking similarity in the murders. The only link they can find adds more confusion to the respective murders: a sixteenth-century book bound in human skin and believed to be the diary of a serial killer.

Brekke's debut is a pretty gruesome tale with more than a few twists. It begins with a flashback to a mendicant monk who turns out to be the author of the manuscript that links the two cases. His story includes some really fantastic details on the history of early anatomy (a bit fudged for the purpose of the story but the author's afterword does detail the truth behind the fiction, so to speak).

Poe enthusiasts will likely jump at the Poe Museum setting, but as the author also points out in his afterword, Poe himself is pretty inconsequential to the actual plot. It is a nice detail that adds more interest to the story even though it doesn't play heavily on the plot itself - adds more atmosphere in a way.

One wonders, in finishing, if we'll see more of these characters. Brekke pays close attention to building up backstories for more than a few of the people in this tale to the point that a series could be feasible. The book does stand completely on its own, however, but would be a nice set up for a new Norwegian crime series.

Rating: 3.5/5

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