Having earned accolades worldwide for his TV and film contributions, including the television series “The Killing,” and the feature film “The Snowman,” Søren Sveistrup has crafted another sinister psychological crime drama with his debut novel “The Chestnut Man.”
When the body of a single mother is found beaten to death and dismembered, detectives Naia Thulin and Mark Hess are assigned to the case. Little evidence is discovered at the crime scene to offer clues to the newly paired and unenthusiastic detectives, except a small child’s craft figure: a chestnut man.
The chestnut figure bears a single print that matches that of 12-year-old Kristine Hartung, daughter of Copenhagen’s Minister of Social Affairs Rosa Hartung. The trouble is that Kristine disappeared a year ago. Though her body was never recovered, a young man confessed to her murder and dismemberment and was institutionalized for the crime.
Kristine’s disappearance remains raw when the Hartung family learns of this new development, sending them into a spiral of doubt as Rosa grapples with her reemergence into public service. Presented with more questions than answers, Thulin and Hess continue their investigation as more murdered women are found, chestnut men taunting them at each crime scene.
Struggling to integrate their methods, and deal with obstacles in their personal lives, they race against time to find the threads connecting the murders and understand how a young girl, presumed dead, plays a role in the savage killer’s signature.
Sveistrup’s storytelling is vibrant and detailed without digressing from the intoxicating mystery, a skill honed with his creations for the screen. Clues, expertly sprinkled across the pages like breadcrumbs, lead the reader to the heart stopping revelation in this Scandinavian crime thriller where even at the very end, nothing is as it seems.