Danish nurse Nina Borg’s fourth brush with crime begins with a scene in which she’s savagely struck down by an oddly apologetic killer, and then it gets worse and worse.
Nina’s come to Viborg to tend to her mother, who’s been diagnosed with cancer. Relations between the two have been strained ever since Nina discovered the body of her father, a suicide, when she was 12. Now she’s going to need all the reserves of strength she can summon, because it looks as if the attack that almost killed her was neither a robbery attempt nor a random crime of opportunity. And Nina hasn’t even been released from the hospital before she starts getting flowers and obscure notes quoting Scripture (“His peace passeth understanding”), some of them signed “Victor.” Readers know even before Nina who hulking Victor is: with poor Vincent Bernardo and wealthy Vadim Lorenzo, he’s one of “the V-team,” three medical students who entered Manila’s St. Francis College of Medicine together four years earlier. When too much partying sinks Vincent’s grades, he loses his scholarship. Vadim, meanwhile, is expelled for cheating, starts a construction firm, and offers Vincent a job, or, more precisely, a position in his private game of Simon Says. As in Nina’s last case (Death of a Nightingale, 2013), the principal interest comes from watching the interspersed flashbacks to the Philippines catch up to a present that holds threats and danger for both Nina and her lover, Søren Kirkegard, who’s been placed on leave from his police job by a boss who has no idea how much more damage he’s going to sustain this time around.
Unfortunately, the extended back story this time is neither surprising nor particularly interesting. Fans who’d like to see Nina do something more than absorb a series of brutal attacks may want to wait for the next installment.