THE GIRL WITHOUT SKIN  by Mads Peder Nordbo


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The discovery of a mummified Norseman in the blinding Greenlandic ice cap—perhaps the archaeological find of the century—goes bad when the mummy disappears and the officer who had been guarding it overnight is left in a bloody heap, gutted like a seal.

Nordbo debuts in English with this lurid noir. Protagonist Matthew Cave, a journalist, finds his dream of scoring an international scoop complicated when the mummy find becomes a murder investigation. Plagued by personal demons, including the recent death of his pregnant wife and a father who disappeared years earlier, Matthew is bemoaning the fact that his newspaper won't publish his article about the mummy when his editor mentions a series of 40-year-old deaths that might be worth looking into. These unsolved cases featured flayed adult victims as well as missing girls, and they seem reminiscent of the recent murder. When Matthew starts looking into the cold cases, a police officer named Ottesen gives him a diary he's found in the files; it belonged to Jakob Pedersen, an officer who worked on the 1970s murders and then disappeared. This leads to parallel protagonists and timelines. Ottesen gave Matthew the diary because his own father worked with Pedersen, but the other cops aren't happy when they learn that Matthew has it. Meanwhile, Matthew becomes obsessed with Tupaarnaq Siegstad, a suspect in the recent murder, who's just been freed from prison after having served time in Denmark for killing her family, including her father, whom she gutted, when she was 15. Tupaarnaq offers to take Matthew hunting, then compels him to eat raw seal liver—"You can't come home after your first seal hunt without having tasted warm liver. Those are the rules, and they apply to you too"—and later to carry a leaking bloody plastic bag bursting with chunks of seal meat for miles. These scenes and others offer intriguing glimpses of Greenland, its relentless summer light and oppressive winter darkness. While the mystery is dramatically resolved, readers will want to learn what’s next for the bereaved Matthew, who learns a little more about his missing father in the midst of this investigation.

Fans of Nordic crime fiction have a new author to follow.

Pub Date: June 11th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-925603-83-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Text
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2019


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