Scandinavian noir crime fiction continues to pile up the body count in this latest by the Danish Hammer siblings.
In Copenhagen, Detective Superintendent Konrad Simonsen has returned to his position as head of the Homicide Squad after time off for a massive heart attack. He’s mending nicely but miffed: in his absence, second-in-command Arne Pedersen has taken over, and Simonsen’s on limited duty. But his first day back, a school shooting involving a boy who kills two teachers with a submachine gun and holds his classmates hostage has the Homicide Squad out trying to diffuse the situation. And that’s not all: Simonsen is also asked to look into the death of a man who was found at the bottom of his own staircase six months earlier. Although initially ruled as an accident, someone higher up wants it confirmed, and, for Simonsen, the case means a walk through the tumultuous 1960s, when the elderly detective was a young police officer. Meanwhile, the two cases improbably link up, Simonsen decides to smoke marijuana for the first time in his life, and the book wanders from clue to clue like a drunk stumbling along a sidewalk hoping each doorknob he turns will be his own. Overly long and complicated, with plot twists that lead absolutely nowhere, this novel appears to be an excuse to take Simonsen on a nostalgic trip back to his younger days of policing. Simonsen’s investigators turn over every rock in their painstaking but often dull examination of both evidence and circumstance, and the authors never fail to describe, in detail, every move the police make, even the ones that ultimately mean nothing. With stilted writing that could charitably be partially attributed to the translation and at least one prominent error relating to the submachine gun, this story’s a massive snoozer.
Ridiculous coincidence aside, this Danish sleeping pill proves thin on story.