Friday, August 21, 2015

My Mystery Reader Selection

North Sea Cottage by Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen, Candied Crime (2014) was my selection for this month’s Mystery Readers. Because the book was translated into English, some of it comes across as awkward, but the plot and its pace kept pulling me along.

The story takes place in Stenbjerb, Denmark located in Jutland in the northern part of the country. Tora Skammelsen, a writer, has retreated to her aunt’s north sea cottage to recover from some unspecified tragedy revealed later in the book. Her aunt, Bergtora, the owner of the cottage is temporarily in a nursing home to a fall.

 Tora is barely settled when there’s a storm, and a lightning strike sets the stable on fire. Fireman put the fire out, but in the aftermath, she discovers a trap door in the stable floor. In the space underneath she sees a skeleton, animal bones she thinks, until she sees a skull. The police are notified and an investigation ensues. The bones turn out to be very old.

 A flashback takes us back to 1943 during WWII and is told through the eyes of Bergtora, our heroine’s aunt, a 12 yr. old child when the German army occupied Denmark. Times are hard, food is in short supply. Bergtora’s father is part of the resistance movement, a very risky business made worst by neighbor informing on neighbor. Late one night her father leaves, never to be seen again, apparently fleeing to Sweden.

 As the story moves back and forth between the years 2012 and 1943, Tora and the police officer in charge of the investigation become friends, collaborating to untangle family secrets in order to find out who was buried under the stable.
Though the ending was not very satisfying because it leaves the reader to wonder what happened after the identity of killer is learned, this twisted tale is enjoyable due to its fast moving

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