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by Sara Blaedel and Mark Kline, trans.
Grand Central, February 2016
320 pages
ISBN: 1455581542

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A teenage boy is missing in the forest around Hvalsoe, Denmark, and Louise Rick, who once lived in the town, is assigned the case. When she heads home to investigate, the past envelops her. Her boyfriend, Klaus, was declared to have committed suicide after a cursory police investigation some years ago, a source of great pain for Louise. As Louise and her partner, Eik, attempt to find the boy, they come across clues leading to Klaus’ death, as well. A splinter group of the Asatro, worshipers of the old Norse gods, is implicated in both cases.

The forest is full of mystery and danger. The Asatro hold their pagan rites there, an old woman who spouts cryptic warnings camps in the woods, trees reputed to have special powers have lived in the forest for hundreds of years, there’s an old private graveyard for young girls…and it is in this menacing atmosphere that the boy is hiding. But it is not only the past and the sepulchral that threatens the boy; it is also the modern day brotherhood that he has broken away from. This group of Asatro has secrets and will stop at nothing to keep them hidden. Louise and Eik must deal with both the past and the present as they try to save the boy before the Asatro can find him.

There is a brooding sense to the book that suits both the topic and the location well. As Louise gets closer to answering the question of why the boy is hiding in the forest, she discovers connections to Klaus’ death. The two cases come together, centered on the Asatro and their rites in the forest, and everyone close to Louise is threatened. Louise and Eik’s developing relationship serves as a ray of light in an otherwise very dark book.

This is the eighth book in the series, although the first one I’ve read. It is a fine place to enter the series. There is no sense of missing out on background from the past. Meeting Louise at this juncture feels very much like meeting a new friend; as time (and the book) move forward, the reader learns more about Louise’s past in a very realistic manner. The creepy atmosphere of the book comes from the practitioners of the ancient Asatro religion, and it is very well developed. It will be interesting to go back to see if all the Louise Rick books are as compelling.

§ Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, February 2016

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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