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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Victim Without a Face

Series: Fabian Risk

Rachel Willson-Broyles (Translator)

ISBN: 9781250103185

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 9/6/2016

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4.5 Stars A KILLER WITH A MESSAGE. Two men are dead. Both had been bullies at school. A single clue has been found at the scene: a class photo, with two faces neatly crossed out. A DETECTIVE WHO CAN’T LET GO. Fabian Risk is among the faces in the photograph. He’s also the lead detective on the case. He thought he’d left his schooldays behind. Now his classmates are dying for the sins of their childhood. . . .


The first book in an internationally bestselling, award-winning series, Stefan Ahnhem's Victim Without a Face is a chilling novel about the ultimate revenge.


"Recalls Mankell at his best." ―The Sunday Times (UK)

“Gripping, surprising, and tense.” ―Crime Review (UK)

“It’s a better class of murder in Sweden. . . . Epic in scale and ambition, this announces a new arrival in the Swedish crime galaxy.” ―Daily Mail (UK)

“This Scandinavian page-turner is sure to keep you up late into the night.” ―Guelph Mercury (Canada)

“An unusually good debut.” ―Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

“A through and through brilliant and stringent crime novel that you plow through in large portions with a worryingly high heart rate.” ―Norrbottens-Kuriren (Sweden)

“All admirers of Swedish crime can be thrilled about this book as well as the coming stories in the company of Fabian Risk.” ―Weekendavisen (Denmark)

“My god this grabs. It has hands. Truly.” ―Caroline Kepnes, author of You

“Full of surprise, suspense, and the shadows of the past. I read it in one sitting.” ―Åke Edwardson, author of Room No. 10

“Grabs you from the very first page and refuses to let you go.” ―Michael Hjort and Hans Rosenfeldt, authors of the Sebastian Bergman series

“More gripping than Jo Nesbø, blacker than Stieg Larsson, and more bleakly human than Henning Mankell.” ―Tony Parsons, author of The Murder Man

My Review

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Established sexy Swedish screenwriter, Stefan Ahnhem,breaks out with his highly anticipated debut – A gritty, edgy police procedural crime thriller, VICTIM WITHOUT A FACE translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles . The first in the Fabian Risk (love the name and the character) series; high-octane, adrenaline fueled a race against time to catch an evil class killer. Forty-three-year old Detective Fabian Risk, has left Stockholm under a cloud, and is now hoping to start fresh with his wife and children in Helsinborg- the town where he grew up. He wants to forget about money for once and buy new things. He is recruited to assist with a murder; he, being a former classmate. He is supposed to be on family vacation--what happened to the six-week vacation before he starts his new job at the Homicide Department? He decides he wants to help. Especially intrigued, when he finds the identity of the first victim. Someone from his old class had been brutally murdered and was discovered several days later- on the very day he arrived back in his hometown with his family. Sure, it could be a coincidence. But something told him it was about as likely at coincidence as the sawed-off hands. Jorgen Palsson- they said was violated. Had he gotten exactly what he deserved? His students at school supposedly worshiped him, his wife says. Fabian knows he was rowdy in his days. Fabian was certain he had used steroids; however, unsure his wife, Lina knew his violent past. Or does she? A single clue was left at the scene: a class photo from 1982, with two faces neatly crossed out. He had never liked Jorgen and had made sure to stay as far away from him as possible. It wasn’t because he was afraid, but more so out of faintheartedness. He wouldn’t have to witness the abuse and be forced to take a side-if he hadn’t seen anything. His memories were fuzzy. He remembered enough to know that he and another guy had spread fear throughout the class, but they had picked on one person in particular: Claes Mallvik. He was bullied as soon as the names were read for attendance in the first grade, all the way until he finished the ninth grade. Everyone including teachers knew, and no one did anything but avert their eyes. What he recalled about this guy, was his shy and cautious nature, someone who had hardly dared to raise his hand in class to answer a question. Had he now gone so far as to take the life of his tormentor in a brutal and headline grabbing way? There was no limit to what violence and mental terrorism could do to a person; it was probably the very way to create a monster. Could this case be something other than a victim’s revenge? Or someone altogether different? The case was not going as he imagined and everyone is interested in teamwork, while a madman is on the loose. Another twist which hits close to home. The killer had been in his home and now his family was in danger. Tick tock . . . The author, cleverly uses wit and dark humor, mixed with tidbits of a disturbing diary/journal written by a boy in school. Who is writing? The writer of the diary beats himself up at the end of each entry with bullet points about how weak, ugly, useless and a wuss he is. (you smypathize with him). Fabian looks at the yearbook album and thinks he knows who the killer is. 9th Grade. How many of the classmates will die before the killer can be apprehended? With many red herrings, and unexpected twists and turns, the author uses some top notch cop procedures and some nice interactions with his new boss, Detective Superintendent Astrid Tuvesson and forensic expert Ingvar Molander, with Dunja Hougaard Homicide Unit of Copenhagen Police and supporting characters. Character driven, with well-crafted dialogue and smooth plot planning- a perfect mix of good and evil. and nice personal interactions. You have to love "Nordic Noirs" -their eerie setting, desolate characters and complex subject matters leave readers wanting more. I love Harry Bosch and Fabian Risk reminds me of his “flawed-edgy risk-all” strong personality. Looking forward to the next in this crime sequel and learning more about what happened in Stockholm six months prior --and some of Fabian’s intriguing skeletons from the past. Should be interesting. Gripping! The author definitely knows his way around, and fans of well-written crime thrillers will devour. Going to hold a star (5) rating for the next installment, which I expect will be a show-stopper. Can't give away all your secrets the first time around. Nordic Noir has been a dominant part of global detective fiction, film and television in the past two decades and do not see it slowing down anytime soon. Even though this was a lengthy book, it did not read as such. I was at the end in a "blink of an eye". Great job with the translation. A US fan!

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About the Author

Stefan Ahnhem

Stefan Ahnhem is an established screenwriter for both TV and film, and has worked on a variety of projects, including adaptations of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallender series. He also serves on the board of the Swedish Writers Guild. He lives in Stockholm. Victim Without a Face is his first novel.

Born: November 24, 1966 (age 49), Stockholm, Sweden

Books: Victim Without a Face

Movies: Mastermind, Wallander: Innan frosten, The Glass Devil

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The Ninth Grave

A Fabian Risk Thriller

Coming Dec 1, 2016

It is one of the worst winters Stockholm has ever seen. So when the Swedish Attorney General fails to arrive for a parliamentary debate, the media assume he got delayed by a blizzard. But then the wife of a Danish TV star is found murdered in her home – and suddenly it seems that the cases are connected.

The Stockholm and Copenhagen police will do anything to avoid working together. But as the investigation starts to spiral out of control, the Danes and Swedes must end their feud and help each other ... before more people die.







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