Søren Sveistrup was the creator of the Danish TV series, Forbrydelsen (The Crime), which Fox Television Studios produced as The Killing. The series ran on AMC for three years and, after it was cancelled, Netflix picked it up for three more seasons. Not only did The Killing prove to be a breakout role for Mireille Enos, who played Sarah Linden, a Seattle-based police officer, it also raised Sveistrup’s profile in the U.S. Although Sveistrup is a well-known scriptwriter, creator, and film producer, The Chestnut Man, published by Harper, is his first crime novel. No surprise that the thriller will be made into a six-episode TV series with production set to begin in Denmark in 2020. It will debut worldwide exclusively on Netflix.
The Killing was heavy on character development, with flawed main players, like Enos’ Linden, barely holding their lives together. Police work is not for the faint of heart, particularly for those officers who work to solve gruesome murders. Police detective Nain Thulin is assigned to Copenhagen’s Major Crimes Division, where cost-cutting has led to fewer investigators, leaving those who remain working overtime. She’s actually thinking of transferring to NC3, the department for cyber crime, which has become a priority and, as a result, well funded.
Hess, a “liasion officer” had been stationed at Europol’s headquarters in the Hague, but after the death of his wife, he went into a tailspin and is being sent to Copenhagen as a last resort to save his career. He’s partnered with Thulin and before he can even unpack, he’s thrown into working a murder case that soon morphs into the serial killer dubbed The Chestnut Man. The victims, all young mothers, are brutally killed with either a hand or foot chopped off. Left at each crime scene is a man made of two chestnuts and toothpicks. The murders become even more complicated when a fingerprint found on the chestnuts belongs to a young girl who was abducted a year ago and is now believed dead.
Kristine Hartung was the daughter of Rosa Hartung, who heads the Ministry for Social Services. She and her husband, Steen, have never recovered from the loss of their daughter and Steen, in particular, still believes she’s alive. The appearance of Kristine’s fingerprint on the chestnuts reopens the case and old wounds.
Like mysteries and films set in Nordic countries, The Chestnut Man is dark and foreboding, the cold weather almost becoming another character. At more than 500-pages, the thriller is not one that can be read in a day and, truth be told, the first hundred pages move so slowly, it takes some dedication to keep reading. Those who do will be rewarded. This is a well-plotted mystery with enough twists and turns that while surprising are plausible when all the pieces fall into place. We can’t wait for the TV series.
The Chestnut Man
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