Jon Fabel is a detective working in present-day Germany, and there appears to be a new serial killer on the loose who goes through rather disturbing rituals with his victims – by the time Fabel finds these women, the women have been tortured, their ribs have been pried open, and their lungs have been thrown (intact) over the victim’s shoulders. What’s worse, is that the serial killer has chosen Fabel as a type of nemesis for himself and has a penchant for e-mailing Fabel while he’s going through the ritual of killing his victims. What we discover soon into the book is that these killings mimic a ritual that the Vikings used to go through, and is called the Blood Eagle.
To make things even more complicated, it appears that the serial killer is also involved in a number of rapes in the community and might very well be a part of an underground mob.
Mystery books usually don’t appeal to me at all, but as I was intrigued by blurb on the back cover of Brother Grimm – the second book in this series (ah, the story of my life!) – I had to venture forth with this one first.
I feel that this book had so much potential, but most of the time it fell short of what I had hoped for. It was confusing at a lot of points – there were more characters than I could keep straight, even with my flipping back in the book to reread things, there were parts of the book that I thought was completely unnecessary, and a lot of the time the narration was just so cheesy. I can forgive some cheesy prose, I really can… but when the author tells us that, “It was a chill that radiated out from a single fact he had locked deep inside: as sure as the sun would rise tomorrow, this killer would strike again,” I’m really not sure what to think. Stuff like that throughout the whole book. Words seem to fail me.
I have a feeling Russell tried a bit too hard with the foreshadowing. It was so obvious that he was alluding to something that would be revealed later on in the book, and it just got frustrating that he didn’t completely explain himself at once.
Also, I know this is just my thing, but I felt the book was focused too much on the plot. I’m all for more character-oriented stories, where we see how experiences make the characters grow… I think this is one of the reasons I don’t enjoy mystery novels quite as much; the ones I’ve read have all been much more plot driven than character driven, and it leaves me feeling like I don’t really care what’s going on.
Overlooking all of that, though, there were parts of this book that were really good.
I loved how Norse mythology and the history of the Vikings was worked into the story. This isn’t the first time in the past month when I’ve though how much I wish I knew more about Norse mythology, just to understand a little bit more of what was going on. I think in the near future I’m going to have to start looking into it.
The other thing that I had found really interesting was another tiny little part. This is one of the few books that I’ve read that takes place in present time in Germany; I was intrigued by how the author wrote about the German people, how they view themselves as a nation, and how they might feel towards what had happened in regards to WWII.