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By: Sara Blaedel
Series: Louise Rick #8
Publisher: Grand Central
Publication Date: 2/2/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Grand Central and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Danish, Sara Blaedel, ‘The Queen of Crime,” returns following The Forgotten Girls, with THE KILLING FOREST(Louise Rick #8) —another multi-leveled gripping and twisted crime suspense of a missing teen, old legends, dangerous rituals, Asatro (worship of the ancient Norse gods), and a powerful connection to the detective’s own haunted past.
As the book opens in a dark creep forest at midnight, there is a ritual-- a fifteen- year-old boy, Sune is preparing for the party, when he would leave as a child and return as a man. His mom was dying, and now he had to make his father Lars proud. The midnight sacrifice in his honor. He would join the men’s circle. Two gifts to the gods. After tonight he would be bound by his vow. He would be a man.
They brought him a surprise present? A woman, perform the fertility ritual? Strengthen your manhood? Why was this woman undressing in front of everyone? He was mesmerized. When she tries undressing him, he has to get away- to escape. He does not want to do the things the men are forcing him to do. He watches from his hiding place. Even his own father is pushing him. He would escape the forest, the torches and the cruel men.
They were all forcing themselves onto her, even his own father. What happens next—is horrific—he cannot bear the acts, he knows the woman is dead. He cannot allow them to find him. He prayed to the gods they would not find him.Was he supposed to be a part of this oath of silence?
Detective Inspector, Louise Rick has been on sick leave returning to her apartment in Fredericksburg and her job at National Police Headquarters. She and adopted son Jonas had been staying in at a small cottage and it was just what they had needed.
There had been a shooting at the gamekeeper’s house where a man had been killed while attempting to rape her. The worst part of the entire fatal night was what Rene Gamst said about Klaus, Louise’s first love, who had hanged himself the day after they moved in together. His words still echoed in her head. Reaching the private place, she had hidden away for many years.
She and Klaus had been together since Louise was in the ninth grade in Hvalso and on her eighteenth birthday he had given her an engagement ring. A year later after he finished his apprenticeship as a butcher, they had moved into an old farmhouse. Two nights later he was dead. All these years she had been plagued by guilt. Why would he have taken his life? She had never understood what had happened, and if Gamst was telling the truth, Klaus had not slipped the noose around his own neck.
Even Detective Lieutenant Mik Rasmussen knew she was hiding something. They had been lovers. Now the story came out. Since Klaus’s death, she had entered relationships only halfheartedly. She has to find out more.
Then there is Eik Nordstrom, her partner—they are different in many ways. Louise had to deal with her past in order to move forward.
Sune is alone, he misses his mom, how will he survive? Things get personal, when the dead prostitute is found near the sacred oak and Louise suspects the young boy may have witnessed the death and why he may be on the run--and in great danger.
The case ends up on her desk—she knows something is deadly wrong. In addition, she soon suspects Klaus’s death may be caught up in the same religious cult. She will find out what happened the night Klaus was killed. She was looking forward to confronting her old demons.
From Louise’s journalist friend, Camilla and others from her past, she begins to undercover deadly secrets, from long ago. Hvalso, where the best defense is a good offense. A brotherhood. A vow to stand together and protect one another. A rite of passage. Human sacrifices. They are called blood brothers (Nordic mythology). Initiation ceremonies. Two cases are connected. No one gets out. Punishment. How many people are covering? Who is the gothi? (male cult priest)
Things get complicated. Hvalso Cemetry. A missing girl from 1988. Then Jonas may be in danger. If anyone harms Louise’s son, she would KILL. Outraged. She has to find Sune, to protect him, and also he would be a witness to the killing, plus a key to her own questions regarding her past love.
Blaedel, has created a flawed, smart, driven main protagonist, experiencing many traumatic events in her life. From the riveting topics of prostitution, assisted suicide, and dangerous rituals, there is the parallel story of Louise and her dear friend, Camilla. An ongoing friendship of growth and change-- amid crime scenes, cop procedures, danger, mystery, and suspense. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
The author definitely knows how to blend fact with fiction—and liberties taken addressed in her acknowledgements. Well researched, from Norse mythology, old legends and myths-- mixed with her own brilliant imagination. And a first class strong and driven DI, you will root for! As always, enjoy learning about other cultures and controversial topics.
The old Nordic religion (Asatro) today. I found the old Nordic religion fascinating, and at the same time frightening. I did some other research and found Thor and Odin are still going strong 1000 years after the Viking Age. Many think that the old Nordic religion - the belief in the Norse gods – disappeared with the introduction of Christianity. However, it did not, but was instead practiced secretly or under a Christian cloak. Today there are between 500 and 1000 people in Denmark who believe in the old Nordic religion and worship its ancient gods. Sounds like the modern believers in the old Nordic religion meet in the open air just as the Vikings did.