Book review: The Chestnut Man

By Søren Sveistrup
Translated from the Danish by Caroline Waight
Published by Michael Joseph

Synopsis: One blustery October morning in a quiet suburb of Copenhagen, the police make a terrible discovery. A young woman is found brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hands is missing. Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts. 

Ambitious young detective Naia Thulin is assigned the case. Her partner, Mark Hess, is a burned-out investigator who's just been kicked out of Europol. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man - evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and is presumed dead - the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung. 

The man who confessed to her murder is behind bars and the case is long since closed. 

Soon afterwards, another woman is found murdered, along with another chestnut man. Thulin and Hess suspect that there's a connection between the Hartung case, the murdered women and a killer who is spreading fear throughout the country. But what is it?

Thulin and Hess are racing against the clock, because it's clear that the murderer is on a mission that is far from over…

How did this book end up in my hands? The publisher invited me to join the blog tour for this book and – having loved the TV series The Killing – I eagerly accepted.

Was it a page-turner? I was hooked from the start but I must confess that – at the beginning – I was too scared to read this book when it was dark outside so I had to make myself wait! Towards the end, though, I couldn’t help it and I just had to keep on reading. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!

Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? This book definitely exceeded expectations. Yes, it is too gory at times (depending on your preferences, obviously). Yes, the child abuse scenes are hard to read. Once you get past these things, however, you have a book that will absorb your every thinking moment.

Did I like the ending? [no spoilers] The revelation of the perpetrator was mind-blowing. I did not see that coming. 

Three words to describe it. Visual. Gripping. Hair-raising.

Do I like the cover? All I can say is that I will never be able to look at chestnuts in the same way again.

Have I read any other books by the same author? This is the author’s debut novel. I have however watched The Killing, which he wrote.

Will I be recommending this book? It’s not for the fainthearted, that’s for sure. If you don’t mind being scared, go for it! I struggled at first because the book is written so well that I could see it all happen in front of me – almost too vividly – but that’s also the beauty of it.


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