The creator of Rome’s Nic Costa (The Savage Shore, 2018, etc.) takes an excursion to the wild side of the Faroe Islands, “where crime [is] as rare as Catholicism.”
Even though Tristan Haraldsen, a former office manager for the Tórshavn Police, has always thought of himself as a town man, he and his wife, Elsebeth, have retired to the Faroes village of Djevulsfjord, where he’s accepted the part-time, largely ceremonial post of district sheriff. His one serious responsibility is to preside over the grind, the ritual slaughter of beached whales. The job doesn’t suit him a bit. He recoils from the wholesale violence, the copious blood, and, in particular, the image of 10-year-old Jónas Mikkelsen precociously stabbing a whale. Worse news swiftly follows. Both Jónas and slow-witted Benjamin Mikkelsen, who’s always been at the mercy of the often cruel brother who’s 18 months younger than him, disappear at the height of the grind. The natives assume it’s another prank by Jónas, and they’re not far wrong: He’s forced Benjamin away from home and into the treacherous wilderness for reasons he feels no need to explain. The plot thickens when Jónas is found stabbed to death with a whaling knife, putting considerable pressure on Haraldsen both to investigate and not to investigate. As he grows more and more convinced that the mystery is rooted in the death of the boys’ uncle Kaspar Ganting, who fell or was pushed over the Lundi Cliffs a year ago, Haraldsen and area police officer Hanna Olsen are strongly encouraged by their superiors to leave ill enough alone. Nor can Haraldsen forget the fate of his predecessor, District Sheriff Kristian Djurhuus, who died just a week after Kaspar Ganting.
As grim as the bleakest of Nordic noir. If you think the solution to the crime will produce a happy ending, just wait till the chilling final pages.