Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: "The Crow Girl" by Erik Axl Sund

One of many things I will take away from The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund (the pen name of two Swedish authors) is how successfully it crafts a rather smart, methodical and downright reprehensible female serial killer. This character, which I will not reveal the identity of, even though it is laid out clearly less than a third of the way through the book, is like a gender swapped Hannibal Lector and whose actions are the stuff of real world nightmares. It is the best part of this long 768 page book, which has the tendency to meander, never successfully executes a lot of the more heady and dreamlike psychological scenes and has a grim mean spirited nature that at times turned me off completely. But having said that, of the few Nordic crime thrillers I have read, mostly from Jo Nesbo, this is easily the best one. A series of heinous murders, mostly of immigrant children rock the city of Stockholm. The case is given to Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg, the highest ranking female officer. She is frustrated by the lack of resources she gives, and comes into contact with criminal therapist Sofia Zetterlund, whose experiences dissecting the worst of humanity has given her a serve case of PTSD. The bodies pile up and a twist, which comes out of nowhere and gives this book’s straight narrative a vague twist, paints the whole rest of the book with a thick coat of dread. This is a rough book at times and it took my breath away during the scenes of abuse. I’d compare this depiction of heinous human folly to the work of Jack Ketchum. Both authors share a sense of anger toward abusers and a total compassion towards victims, and even its bleak ending, which I hope leaves things open for sequel, demonstrates this kind of compassion. Well-written and plotted expertly, this is a high point in a subgenre that I feel is becoming oversaturated. 
Rating: 4/5

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