A particularly horrific crime kicks off the fifth case for Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and the Homicide Department of the Copenhagen PD.
A shadowy man jumps from a canal bridge to a tour boat passing below, conceals himself until the time is right, then emerges from his hiding place, armed with a combat knife, and quickly kills the captain, the tour guide, and two passengers before the only other adult aboard leaps into the water even though she can’t swim. Left alone on the boat with the 16 Asian children on the tour, he strips to his bathing suit and swims away. Nor is the carnage over, for the unpiloted boat, crossing the path of another vessel unable to avoid hitting it, is cut in half, drowning most of the children. The crime would be monstrous under any circumstances, but when Simonsen’s wife and colleague, Nathalie von Rosen, aka the Countess, realizes that one of the dead is Sgt. Pauline Berg, it takes on a fiercely personal intensity. Was Pauline the killer’s primary target? Why did he choose to attack her in such a public way? What to make of the old cases to which the outrage is clearly linked when there’s every indication that telltale details of those cases were hedged, obscured, or concealed? In good time the homicide squad connects the attack to Bosnian War veteran Bjørn Lauritzen and versatile judge advocate/intelligence officer Irene Gallagher. But the resulting courtroom proceedings backfire spectacularly, with disastrous results for Simonsen (The Lake, 2017, etc.) and especially Deputy Homicide Chief Arne Pedersen, his right-hand man. A trip to Bosnia stirs up evidence of even more crimes; the corruption is so thick and pervasive, with so many heavy hitters arrayed against Homicide, that it’s something of a miracle when the case is finally closed.
Even the most ravenous appetites for more gruesome revelations about the Bosnian nightmare will be sated. Despite the weight of all this historical detail, the most powerful sequences are the very first and the very last, showing the slaughter on the canal and the final apprehension of the culprit.