THE KILLING FOREST takes readers on a journey through the past of smart, sharp lead police detective Louise Rick. We learned inThe Forgotten Girls that Louise took a job as the head of the Special Search Agency, where her first big case involved a series of missing girls right in her hometown. Now in THE KILLING FOREST, she reconnects with the principal investigator at the Hobaek Police Department, her former in-laws, a fanatic religious cult, and her longtime close friend, journalist Camilla Lind. As she navigates through the small town’s cramped network of deadly connections, Louise unearths toxic truths left unspoken, and dangerous secrets.
Imagine what happens when a young teen is about to take his right of passage and join his tribe as one of the men. What happens when those that he is close to and is supposed to protect him shun him when he fails to comply to the religious rights that the cult has created. What happens when he gets his vision of what animal will protect him and then made part of a special circle only to learn that if he does not take a young woman as his own whether he wants to or not, he will be cast aside, punished or worse. Sune takes one look at the young lady as he and the others are around this huge campfire and the food has been given out and now they all encircle them both waiting for him to become a man. But, moral values fall into place and the young lady is terrified but knows what will happen if she does not succumb to his wishes and wiles. Something snaps within him and he refuses to commit this act going against everything that he believes in and refuses to defile the young lady against his and her wishes. But, his father and the others become violent and angry and while he escapes the young lady meets a violent death. The Killing Forest focuses on this religious cult, the fact the parents reported him missing, how he is surviving living as a hunted person within the forest, foraging for food and eating anything that is in sight, Sune becomes more like a fugitive within his own world. Living in the forest, able to hide from those that are hunting him he is frightened when someone sees him, approaches him and only wants to help him. Things spiral out of control when bodies are found within this forest owned by her long time and journalist friend Camilla. But, when Camilla spots Sune in the forest and hopes to leave him a knapsack filled with warm clothes, a blanket and food who tries to mow her down sending her to the hospital. When Louise the lead on this case comes to stay with her with Eik, her colleague and new significant other, strange things happen as Elinor a woman of about ninety, frightens her when she says the Death Trail is coming and bodies are found in the forest which this old woman finds when Louise and Eik go to see the graves of the young girls buried years ago. But, finding a body that is not that old and another of a young girl just buried, have they uncovered the body hidden by the cult? What happens when Sune’s father demands that he come home and what ultimatum does he give him as the police cordon off the entire forest waiting for an archeologist to come and the medical examiner’s office to take away the bodies.
As events come into light Louis and Eik question the men that were there the night of Sune’s initiation and what is revealed is startling. Speaking to his mother reveals what the initiation entails and the murder and those that might be responsible for killing Lisa Marie comes to light but can she prove it and what about her superior who does not want her to pursue it and needs the glory for himself. As Sune continues to hide out his father Lars lies to the police claiming he is home and whenever Louis and her partner come to question some of the men in this brotherhood she reaches more roadblocks than a traffic jam on the Washington Bridge. Things get further out of control when Sune’s father tries to save him and bring him home but someone else takes action and tries to deal with Lars as Camilla and Fredrick take him home so who kidnaps him in the middle of the night? What happens when Louise questions one of the men in jail and she learns that Klaus, her boyfriend did not commit suicide but might be a victim of what these men are capable of doing? Angry and casting blame on her friend for not calling the police Louise now knows the truth behind her boyfriend’s death but is this case Lisa Marie’s connected and if so how?
Rymand wants to interrogate the man in jail and since he is giving up the group for what one is doing with his wife, will they have enough to put them all away? When Sune is found and taken to critical care and his mother has hours or days to live Lars reveals the truth behind the rituals, the truth behind a young girl’s death yet the pieces still have some missing puzzles as the former Chief of Police still has too much power and when they learn the truth behind his daughter’s death what will the end result for everyone else be? Revenge, cover-ups, a cult that would do anything to those who dared to betray their oath. When Louise gets too close to the truth about the deaths of several prostitutes and the death of the old police chief’s daughter what happens next rocks her world as they kidnap her Jonas, her son, want to light him up with a match to teach her to stay out of their way and allow them to continue on at all costs. Will they arrest all those involved? Who told them to take Jonas and what will happen if they don’t find him in time? An ending that blows it all up in smoke as the one person who tries to save them and is the guardian angel of the forest just might be the next to be sacrificed. Who will be sent to the sacrificial oak and call up the gods to save them? The ending is terrifying and Louise needs to find closure as the truth about Klaus comes out, her stepson is in danger and her world is about to come to an end unless she can find a way to stop what has already been put into place. A story that reminds everyone that cults are dangerous, powerful people often get away with murder or more and a town’s people living in fear of a few can destroy the wellbeing of the rest. Louise returned to work at the Special Search Agency just in time to be given the case that she would never forget. The butcher’s son goes missing. His wife is dying. He claims he repents the ending is electrifying and the final outcome will let you know that somewhere out there are more bodies that have fallen prey to what happens in THE KILLING FOREST. Author Sarah Bladel hits the five star mark with this outstanding thought provoking novel that reminds everyone what happens when fear takes control and leaves some with the power and others powerless.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine