Crimes are committed every day or at any hour everywhere in the world. The killer often leaves clues or sometimes takes a trophy for his / her collection as a reminder of the victim. Laura was killed in a graphic and horrific manner but when the investigators looked at the scene what was finally revealed was shocking as it linked to another case the previous year. The killer left a doll made of chestnuts and this one had a fingerprint that identified a young child that went missing. The head investigator and her assistant wanted to interview Laura’s boyfriend and her son Magnus was placed in the hospital and is autistic. The boyfriend is a suspect, but you get the impression that he’s upset, and the child remains silent.
Hess the assistant has a past that caused him to be transferred to this division and he hopes to be resent back where he came from. When he realizes something out of nowhere, he skirts protocol and tries to see the child without dealing with his supervisor, but she manages to foil his attempt. The child was playing video games, but his mode of questioning elicited the responses he needed.
Laura was killed and now they had to focus on the child that went missing and interview a high member of government whose husband did not want her involved. What they find is unusual and Thulin the lead investigator is questioning the boyfriend and certain facts do not add up. Releasing him puts her in direct fire if Nylander her superior while ahead goes to Forensics to give Genz perform an experiment on a dead pig.
Hess is bent on learning more about how Laura was killed and dismembered and this experiment he hoped would enlighten him and he as a tendency to go rogue while Thulin covers for the fact that he does not always show up and the prologue introduces us the Chestnut Man, his collection and when this all began. Fear will make the reader shudder as you listen and hear this man speak and view what he has collected and learn how and why.
Reviewing what she knows Thulin realizes that she might have to reinvestigate the boyfriend, but Hess brings her information that might change it all after his experiment thinking that the man arrested for the murder might not be guilty. There are several anomalies that he finds when revisiting and enacting the murder scene that changes the outlook and perspective on the case, but will she follow suit?
When they delve deeper into the death of Laura the learn that someone informed social services that she was abusing her son and that her child should be removed from her home. It came from a whistle blower site and the sender was unknown but when the hospital, the doctor and the consultant inquired and investigated even further all charges were dropped. But, the final reveal will shock readers but there are two more women, Anne and Jessie that die in the same manner as Laura with some type of amputation and the chestnut man is left at the scene but the connection is the fingerprint of Kristine the missing child of the minister.
While Thulin looks in one direction Hess finds clues and threads to connect all three women’s murders and realizes that each one might be connected to the abuse of their children. Anne’s children were abused by her husband and Jessie’s was thought to be neglected by her as the reader sees the way this child looks but why was she the third victim but not before we learn that someone was using her and threatening her in a sexual way and she had no other way but to comply but did she? But, when Hess goes back to Laura’s house he is knocked out, hit and beaten and the attacker is her boyfriend who is the one who raped and threatened her son who is autistic. The danger is still there and the killer has yet to be identified even though the hospital and consultant in each case dismissed the charges but now with the deaths of the three women, and one Detective, Nylander has made this personal and the Minister has no choice but to submit to the interviews along with her adviser, Vogel as the author takes us deep inside the minds of the three abusers and one diabolical killer yet to be found.
Hess is the catalyst in realizing what and who is behind the murders and Thulin becomes suspicious when she attends a Halloween party at her daughter’s school and learns that there are three types of chestnuts and that the one that was found at the scene might not be exactly what she thought it was and was it linked to Kristine’s disappearance and how does it link the deaths of the three women?
Rosa Hartung is the minister for social affairs and her role is to handle abuse cases that come in front of her but somehow this links to her past and the fact that she was adopted and that her adoptive parents had two foster children and their identities will shock readers when all of the pieces fit together. The author shares her past, allows us to learn about the children that lived with her and we understand and learn why they were sent to live with another family after only three short months. Their eyes and their mannerisms as described by the author will give you the chills as we learn more about them in the present. Anne Sejer-Lessen was attacked and Laura Kjaer was the first victim and the similarities of their deaths and mutilations are similar to a point and then the third victim Jessie Kvium loses a limb but the link is the fact that all three were accused and sited for child abuse which was sent by a whistle blower. Four murders one that’s a cop and Nylander does not want to face the fact that he is missing the point hoping that Hess disappears and that he can close the case. The murdered women had one thing in common that their children had been appalling abused or maltreated at home and in all three cases the killer had sent an anonymous tip recommending that they be taken into care and in all three cases the system mistakenly cleared the family’s from suspicion.
When Hess is about to leave town and go back to the Hague the unthinkable happens and he checks out photos on his computer, something draws his attention and he finds himself chasing a deadly foe. But, will Nylander allow him to proceed? Will Thulin realize that she is in danger as she and the killer proceed to find something about the chestnut man and the locations of the various types of chestnuts not realizing she is his captive and possibly his next victim. The killer is clever and has managed to not only snare her into captivity but Rosa to the author shares the history of the killer and we learn just how Rosa fits into his life and his plan.
An ending so terrifying, so hot as the killer feels he is in control but the actions of both Thulin and Hess hope to bring this person down, but will they? When Hess realizes just who the killer really is and the person’s real identity will the higher ups understand that he has solved the case, will Nylander support him or will he once again discount his views?
Author Soren Sveistrup created characters that are so strong, so realistic and a killer that is diabolical, dangerous and justifies his actions plus one man named Linus Bekker that confessed to the murders and when you learn why you will feel the chill in the air as the ice hitting your bones.
Is Kristine alive? Is she really gone? The ending is heartbreaking, heartwarming and yet sad as the author draws the cases to a conclusion and yet you wonder as you read the last page is the legacy of the chestnut man really done?
This is one story and one plot that will haunt readers for a long time. Thulin and Hess make a great team and hopefully the author will bring them back again as her daughter has a special feeling for Hess.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews