A pair of apparently unrelated suicides on the same day poses a formidable mystery for Deputy Chief Superintendent Søren Marhauge, of Copenhagen’s Violent Crimes Unit.
Neither death is officially Søren’s case. Promoted to a desk job after his success in his striking debut (The Dinosaur Feather, 2013), he can’t quit second-guessing his old friend Henrik Tejsner, who’s taken his place heading the VCU’s investigative team. After a couple of tense confrontations, one of them in the office of the hanged professor Kristian Storm, Søren abruptly quits the force. Now he can spend more time with Lily, the 5-year-old daughter of his live-in, biologist Anna Bella Nor, and forget the way Henrik is mucking up the investigation. Or can he? Despite his resolution to stay out of the case, Søren can’t help responding to the pleas of Storm’s student Marie Skov, who insists that her mentor, a distinguished immunologist whose charge that the DTP vaccine widely used in African nations had the side effect of killing many of the children who were vaccinated had aroused a well-nigh global outcry against him, was on the verge of vindication and never would have killed himself. Marie is laboring under heavy burdens of her own. She’s gone through a harrowing surgery for breast cancer; her husband, orthopedist Dr. Jesper Just, wants a divorce; and her mother, gifted weaver Joan Skov, committed suicide on the same day as Storm. Or did she, and did he? Gazan keeps up the pace as she shifts the focus from one painfully dysfunctional family to another, until even the secrets of Søren’s childhood are exposed.
Among the latest crop of Scandinavian thriller writers, Gazan combines the broad scope of Jo Nesbø with the ability to focus as closely and remorselessly as Karin Fossum.