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by Jørgen Brekke and Steven T. Murray, trans
Minotaur Books, February 2015
320 pages
ISBN: 1250016991

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jordan Brekke's latest thriller, DREAMLESS, links a mysterious lullaby from the 1700's with the present-day murder and mutilation of a young singer in a small Norwegian village. The victim's body, with the larynx cut out and removed, was discovered because a music box playing a haunting melody of unknown origin had been placed on it. Without that sound, the body would have been buried in snow. Chief Inspector Odd Singsaker, an aging man barely recovered from brain surgery, is called on to investigate the case. He is recently married to an American detective named Felicia Stone, both of whom were introduced in Brekke's previous book WHERE MONSTERS DWELL. Their relationship is explored as the mystery of the case unfolds.

While Singsaker and his colleagues focus on trying to discover the murderer, another young woman, a teenage girl who also is a talented singer, goes missing. The unusual structure of this novel is that the reader knows exactly what has happened to the girl and also who the kidnapper/killer is. We do not know his real name, however, and so he could actually be any of the possible suspicious characters. It seems that the music box was playing a song shrouded in mystery that was reputed to have some sort of power to induce sleep in the sleepless. The murderer is obsessed with the idea of being able to fall asleep and believes that this song, if sung by a beautiful voice, will enable him to sleep. The detectives find experts to consult who can supply information on old music and also music boxes. All of these minor characters are well described, intriguing, and often quite sinister. We have no lack of possible culprits, including a lecherous choir director.

As the present day search is on, the author cleverly takes us back to the 1700's to the investigation of another mysterious murder. A traveling troubadour has been found dead, his body seemingly skewered by an unknown object. The police chief in this long ago era is another beautifully portrayed creation. The connections to the past are riveting, and this review will not give anything more away.

Brekke's DREAMLESS is a mesmerizing thriller. It may make you want to go back and read the author's previous book featuring the cerebral but appealing detective Odd Singsaker. It may also make you anticipate Singsaker's next case and the next chapter in his life.

§Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, April 2015

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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