Posted in Books I have read

Dead Souls – Elsebeth Egholm

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction

Dead Souls is the second book in the series that features Peter Boutrup, a convicted criminal, Detective Mark Bille Hansen and diver Kir Røjel who live in Djursland, Denmark. Although this book is readable as a standalone the back-stories to these three characters made me wish I’d read the author’s first book, Three Dog Night, first.

In true Scandinavian-noir fashion, there are multiple strands to the story. Peter is having problems with a biker gang and grieving over the loss of his friend My when he is approached by her mother to track down her eighteen year old son Magnus who has disappeared. Peter is a con with a heart and is moved to help her out. Meanwhile at the convent where he works a young girl is pulled from the moat and Peter was the last person to see her alive. Mark Bille Hansen questions Peter but he has few details to tell the Detective it having been a cold dark wintry Halloween night when he saw her talking to a man dressed in black. Meanwhile Kir Røjel has been on a dive to discharge mines left over from the war when she finds a box full of bones which leads to historical investigation that may be connected with the war.

I often find Scandinavian crime quite brutal, this one is no different and it certainly wouldn’t suit the more squeamish reader but it just about treads the line of the descriptions being relevant to the story. There are a lot of characters to follow with multiple persons of interest to keep track of and ponder on their motives as the investigation widens along as the number of bodies pile up. As each of the protagonists has at least one theory for the link between the old bones and the newly murdered bodies the number of suspects grows and the author maintains the tension by allowing the protagonists to get themselves into some sticky situations.

Comparisons have been drawn by the marketing department between Elsebeth Egholm and Camilla Lackberg and Jussi Adler-Olsen; I haven’t read any of the latter and although the multiple strands particularly using a historical thread is reminiscent of Camilla Lackberg’s books there is far less of the personal lives of the protagonists or anything remotely cosy to give the reader the lighter moments which she uses for relief. As much as I enjoyed this book it was a fairly bleak read with some truly horrendous characters from the bikers to the murderer, from the mother’s of the disappeared to the leader of the investigation who had clearly suffered a sense of humour bypass. Not a book to read if you need cheering up but this has a good plot with some interesting historical detail about what happened in Denmark during the war.

I’d like to thank the publishers Headline who allowed me to read this book via bookbridgr in return for my honest opinion.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

12 thoughts on “Dead Souls – Elsebeth Egholm

  1. Cleo – It sounds as though this is one of those rich, but dark, stories that it’s best to read when one’s not in need of cheering up. Still, those stories can be absorbing and really well-written. And by the way, I do recommend Jussi Adler-Olsen. Coming up before too much time I intend to spotlight his first novel Mercy. Hopefully that will give you a bit of an idea of what he’s like as an author.


    1. Margot – great news that you have a splotlight on Jussi Adler-Olsen coming up although each time I read one of these posts I decide I need the book! This is as you say a rich book, I do like multiple strands of stories and it was quite interesting how the author chose to give us some potential links between these before revealing exactly what happened.


  2. I quite like the sound of this, but it’s a fair length, especially if there’s no “personal life” to break up the bleakness. I’ll be looking forward to Margot’s spotlight on Jussi Adler-Olsen too (who for some reason I assumed was a woman; probably the Christian name sounded feminine to me!) I must admit, I can get mixed up with many of the authors who are loosely included in the “Nordic Noir” scene. Should really get to better grips with them, but I’ve enough in the TBR right now. The war aspect interests me – it’s always good to learn something while reading!


  3. When you wrote, “I often find Scandinavian crime quite brutal,” I thought of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series. Those reads were in your face with the swearing and criminal things going on.


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