Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review: "Where Monsters Dwell" by Jorgen Brekke

"Where Monsters Dwell" by Jorgen Brekke
First published in 2011
Translated from Swedish in 2014
357 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
(image source)

"Where Monsters Dwell" was a fast-paced murder-mystery involving a killer who flays his victims (sometimes alive!) and turns their skin into vellum. These horrific deaths all tie back to a mysterious book from the 1500s, penned by a priest and featuring an astounding knowledge of human anatomy for its day.

A pair of grisly murders -- one inside a rare book vault at a library in Norway and the other at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia -- turn out to be linked, and two intrepid cops on either side of the Atlantic join together to solve the case. Odd Singsaker has just started back on the job after surgery to removed a brain tumor. Felicia Stone is a relative newbie on the force; she's good at her job but is still searching for closure from a traumatic event in her past.

This was a fairly well-done mystery and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The characters (who are beginning a series with this book, though the other novels have yet to be translated) are likeable and smart, the mystery was fascinating, grotesque and solvable by the reader, and I breezed through the book. I really liked the portions of the story set in the 16th century; learning about anatomical dissection theaters and fresh graves being dug up in the name of science and discovery of the human body was quite interesting.

One complaint I have, though, is that the book jumps around way too much. The story is told from several points of view and at several time periods. Sometimes it was hard to keep straight. And while I felt it was a decent translation from Swedish, there were a few times when a thesaurus might have been beneficial.

But those are only small complaints. "Where Monsters Dwell" is definitely worth a read if you're in the mood for a good, thrilling murder-mystery and a trip across the sea to Norway.

This book fulfills the Lost in Translation requirement for the 2014 Reading Outside the Box Challenge.

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