Saturday, October 19, 2019

Review: The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man
by Soren Sveistrup
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
2019 Harper
Kindle Edition: 528 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062895363
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

My Thoughts
The Chestnut Man is one of those books I wanted to read simply because I thought the title was interesting and I wanted to know what it was all about.  Plus, I knew this author was the scriptwriter for a television series I really liked, The Killing, so I was intrigued. And I was not disappointed.  With interesting characters and a fascinating plot, I was pretty much hooked from the start.

Chestnuts always make me think of holidays and skating parties and good times, but there was none of that in this book with regards to chestnut men.  Unfortunately, the little chestnut men were a killer's calling card for some pretty gruesome murders whereby the killer tended to focus on mothers who either abused their children or knew their children were being abused and did little to stop that abuse.  I am really grateful that the descriptions in this book only went so far as the ones that were given were enough to make me squirm and feel incredible sympathy for the women involved.  I know they have optioned this book for a tv series, but there are some scenes I think I may have to close my eyes if they actually film them.  I liked the themes that ran through this book as they were pretty powerful ones dealing with abuse, neglect, consequences, and vengeance.  The book also highlighted a system that is definitely overburdened and needs help. 

I really enjoyed the setting (Denmark) and thought the characters were a lot of fun.  I think I would liken this book as both a police procedural and psychological thriller in one.  The plot is actually quite complex, interweaving both the personal and professional lives of the detectives, Thulin and Hess, as they attempt to solve a very political case.  There are many twists and turns and I thought the author did a great job at leaving those red-herrings that leads a reader in different directions which makes it a lot more difficult to figure out the murderer.  I enjoyed both of the detectives, if for very different reasons, and liked how complex both of their characters were.  I didn't figure out who the killer was although I did have the right idea.  This actually made me happy as I like it when I get stumped by an author.  Plus, it makes me want to read more books by them.  I think if I had any complaints about the book, it would be the interactions between Thulin and Hess as I'm not really sure how and when she began to trust him, but it seemed kind of forced to me.  Don't get me wrong, I love their partnership, but a few more sparks would have been nice.  What was there was really good and I really enjoyed the way they fed off each other.  Besides, they both have secrets that have not been ferreted out as of yet and I am curious.  

The Chestnut Man was a gritty mystery novel that moved very quickly and had a lot going for it.  With many twists and turns, and many revelations, the plot moved rather quickly and I enjoyed it tremendously.  The characters were interesting and I am looking forward to learning more about Hess and Thulin in future installments.  There are some instances of graphic violence however, so this many not be everyone's cup of tea.  I do recommend this book to anyone who likes dark police procedurals with interesting characters and a great plot.