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The Hanging    by Lotte Hammer & Soren Hammer order for
by Lotte Hammer
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Strong Scandinavian noir mysteries just keep on coming. Here's a new and different one, The Hanging by the brother-and-sister writing team of Lotte and Soren Hammer, set in Denmark.

It opens on the discovery, by schoolchildren of the bodies of five naked men hanging from their gym ceiling and viciously cut with a chainsaw. Detective Inspector Konrad Simonsen is quickly recalled from his vacation (with his daughter Anna Mia) to lead the investigation. His team includes Nathalie von Rosen (the Countess); Arne Pedersen, a gambler whom he uses to feed information to the media; and young newbie Pauline Berg, who's been having an affair with Pedersen. Simonsen also consults his retired boss, Kasper Planck, who pushes him to think outside the box.

Readers learn early that many individuals are involved in what appears to be a vigilante conspiracy, and more deaths follow. School janitor Per Clausen (a brilliant statistician) soon becomes a person of interest, but then disappears. The group behind the killings manipulate the media and exploit the Internet to garner support for their actions against pedophiles, so that the police find themselves in the unusual position of facing an uncooperative public; even some of their own hinder their efforts. Vigilantism spreads like wildfire, with collateral damage. And one of the conspirators goes off the reservation.

Faced with this explosive and fast deteriorating situation, the detectives employ solid police work - and a few illegal methods - to get a different story out and assert control once more. Though the writing seems awkward at times (perhaps a translation problem) it's an extraordinary, engrossing plot, a recommended read.

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