Masterly plotting, grisly murders and chilling suspense: Stefan Ahnhem keeps the threads of this complex, two-country narrative pulled tensely across more than 500 pages. A crime wave that will satisfy even the most exacting of Scandi-noir devotees.
When the Swedish Attorney General inexplicably vanishes in a snowstorm, criminal investigator Fabian Risk knows he can kiss goodbye to any family time. And things only get worse when the horrific handy work of a murderous surgeon is uncovered. Meanwhile, over in Copenhagen’s homicide squad, Dunja Hougaard has her own issues with the “media circus” surrounding the sickening murder of TV star Karen Neuman – but she’s not going to be the only victim.
As murders start to multiply on both sides of the border, Fabian and Dunja follow threads that crisscross between their two countries. And as they hone in on their suspects, things are bound to get a whole lot darker.
Ahnhem does not pull any punches on the brutal murder scenes, which are not for the fainthearted. But this is the hallmark of high-stakes crime. Fisk and Dunja are satisfyingly flawed and oh-so-human lead investigators, who will win the reader right out of the gate.
But there’s humour here, too. Fans of TV show The Bridge (or the original Bron/Broen) will love the playful ribbing between investigators in Ahnhem’s collaboration between the Danes and the Swedes. Especially the gently comical cultural stereotyping between two countries many in the world ‘mistake’ as similar. (“That’s so typically Swedish!” “You know how the Danes are.”)
It’s a great second outing for Fabian Risk, introduced in Ahnhem’s bestselling debut, The Victim Without a Face (2014). And the Risk series is already drawing favorable comparisons with the giants of Swedish noir: Kurt Wallander’s creator Henning Mankell and, of course, Stieg Larsson. Unsurprising, perhaps, given Ahnhem’s background as a writer on the TV adaption, Wallander. But we think The Ninth Grave has the heft to match the praise. This book has it all: complex characters, a spine tingling plot, sickening serial killers and plenty of time to explore the dark imaginings one of Sweden’s most criminally clever writers.
Stefan Ahnhem is an established screenwriter for both TV and film – including the hit TV adaptation of Swedish noir, Wallander. He also serves on the board of the Swedish Writers Guild. He lives in Stockholm. His bestselling debut novel, Victim Without a Face, won Crimetime’s Novel of the Year in Sweden in 2014 and has been published in 13 countries.