Odd Singsaker 1: Where Monsters Dwell – Jørgen Brekke

Hi guys!

I’ve just finished my first proper crime novel in several years. I read the Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom last year, but I consider them more like historical novels with crime on the side whereas this book I regarded more as a crime novel. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just how it is. I stopped reading crime novels several years ago because I got bored with them, but Brekke has made me rethink this decision.

Jon Vatten works as security at the Gunnerius Library in Trondheim, Norway. He has done this since his academic career went downhill after his wife and son disappeared several years earlier. He is in charge of the security of the books, and especially one book; The book of John. 

Odd Singsaker is just getting back to work after a head tumour surgery. He is thrown into a murder investigation which puts his memory to trial. For the investigation, he needs the very same memory the doctors told him would recover in due time after the surgery. Odd has met his prime suspect earlier in another case. The police had to let the suspect go at that point because they didn’t have enough evidence. Will the suspect turn out to be the one this time? 

Felicia Stone has been with the Richmond Police Murder Investigation Department for two years. She has seen some pretty awful things during her time but never has she seen anything like the sight that meets her one morning at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond. The corpse has been beheaded and flogged, but only the skin is removed. Muscles, tendons and blood vessels are left intact. 

I have to say I enjoyed this book especially because big parts of the plot take place in my university town, Trondheim. It is so fun to read a book when you recognize the places the author is describing. It makes me miss Trondheim even more, although I’m going back this upcoming fall. Brekke describes Trondheim in great terms and he makes it easy to visualize how the police work and how things slowly fall into place as you progress in the book. What I thought was quite funny is that there is a character named Siri Holm, who works at the Gunnerius Library and she loves crime novels. Siri Holm has read a lot of crime novels and she presents the way a crime author builds up a crime novel to Odd Singsaker, the main policeman, kind of like a recipe. The reason for why I find this funny is because it makes you as a reader to start thinking about how Brekke has written the book himself. He has actually followed his own recipe, explained by Siri Holm, to quite a large extent.

Even with a recipe, I wasn’t able to figure out who was the murderer before Odd Singsaker discovered it himself. I think I have to read more crime novels. If you guys read my blog posts about the Shardlake series you will remember that I had the same problem with them. In some sense, it’s fun to not discover who the murderer is before the main characters do because that means the author has done a very good job with their writing. On the other hand, it is also quite nice to guess it beforehand and then get that smug feeling when the main characters finally catch up to your discovery.

Into this crime plot, Brekke has been able to weave in some side stories in order for the reader to get to know the main characters better. I felt that it helped me understand them better and to some extent explain why they think the way they do as the plot evolve. There are historical aspects weaved in as well which I was a history nerd never complain about. I don’t want to spoil too much, because that would give away too much of the book. You will have to read it yourself, hehe.

By the way, in Norwegian, this book is named Nådens omkrets. That may be helpful to my Norwegian readers due to that Jørgen Brekke is a Norwegian author.

Released: 2011

Genre: Crime, mystery, thriller

Theme: Murder, anatomy, history

– The Book Reader

Bilderesultat for nådens omkrets

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