“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear”.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to my stop on the blog tour and review of the first book in The Odense Series called A Presence of Absence by two authors, Sarah Surgey and Emma Vestrheim.
But, first things first.
Although the book takes place in two countries, England and Denmark, this is where the murders take place: Odense, Denmark.
Odense is the birthplace of our beloved Hans Christian Andersen. This is his childhood home!
And now that we have some background for the book, lets look at its synopsis.
The Odense Series is a new Nordic Noir/Brit Crime series that blends humanist stories and family drama with gritty crime in the central Danish city Odense.
British detective Simon Weller escapes the fallout from the recent suicide of his Danish wife, Vibeke and heads out to her home city of Odense. But once there he is paired up with a local detective, Jonas, who is also about to hit rock bottom in his home life and they must overcome their differences and personal problems to try and catch one of the worst serial killers Odense has seen in many years.
The case takes them back into past decades as history starts catching up with some of the local inhabitants.
When Simon realises that his wife’s suicide may not be all it seems and her name appears in the case, his integrity within the case is compromised, how far will he go to find out the truth of Vibeke’s past and hide it from his already troubled police partner?
Back home in London Simon’s family are struggling with their own web of lies and deceit and the family is falling apart.
With one family hiding a dark secret, the whole case is just about to reach breaking point.
I enjoyed this book. It is a refreshing twist in the crime fiction scene as it combines Nordic Noir and Brit Crime, two genres that readers all over the world adore and its combination makes the story unique. Although I was a bit apprehensive at first, due to the emphasis on grief, I have to say that it didn’t drag the book down and as the book progressed, the tension kept on building. Yes, our Detective and his family have to face the aftermath of the suicide of their beloved wife and mother and we watch how they cope and deal with the deliberating consequences of a death in the family but the book is also full of adventure and revelations.
We have a serial killer on the loose, murder victims left with hay in their mouths, gambling bets, the British underworld, a victim in the Danish upper class, an exclusive boarding school and lots of secrets…
The plot is well paced with plenty of surprises, the writing is very good and the two authors have managed to show one voice. I liked the way the authors developed the relationship of the two detectives and I can’t wait to see both of them in the subsequent books. I think the authors did a wonderful work of laying down the foundation for all of their characters which makes me excited to see their adventures in the next book. As for the epilogue, well, let’s just say…it’s very strong!
My favorite heroines
I found Sanne a very interesting and strong character and I really want to see her adventures in the second book. But, I would also like to mention another character, June, and the kindness that she showed in one of our detectives, Jonas. She tells Jonas: “…watching you how you care so much about this town and its people warms my heart…Be confident, Jonas. You are a good man and you will work this out, I believe in you.” When you read the book, you will understand why this particular character needed so much someone to believe in him. Don’t we all need a June in our lives? 😉
About the Authors
Sarah Surgey is a 36 year old British feature writer for various magazines. She lives in the UK with her husband and 4 daughters.
She has had an interest in all things Nordic for many years and has written about many genres within this subject for publication. Although British, she has Danish family and enjoys exploring Denmark and its culture whenever the opportunity arrives.
Sarah was brought up with crime books and inevitably has always had crime story scenarios going around inside her head. After interviewing many famous authors for different magazines within the Nordic literary circle and always knowing the answer to her question of “why did you start writing?” she felt now was her time to get her stories out there, for people to read!
Emma Vestrheim is the owner and editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia, a Nordic film and television journal that analyses popular Nordic titles. Part of her work includes working with directors, actors and filmmakers, and her numerous interviews with the biggest names in Nordic film and television have given her a privileged access to what makes Nordic narratives so successful. Cinema Scandinavia publishes bimonthly and is available in major Nordic film libraries.
Thanks to the authors for a copy of their book and a place on the blog tour. Here are the other stops if you want to follow along.