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Dreamless    by Jorgen Brekke order for
by Jorgen Brekke
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2017 (2015)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dreamless follows Where Monsters Dwell as the second Odd Singsaker mystery to be published in North America. The series is set in Trondheim, Norway, where Singsaker is a police inspector. He had a brain tumor removed before the series opened, and struggles with missing memories. He is happily in a relationship with ex-homicide detective Felicia Stone (from Richmond), who joined him in Trondheim after they worked together on related cases. Felicia has started work 'to assist Americans who want to find out more about their ancestors in Norway.'

As before, Brekke takes readers back and forth in time, linking modern crimes to intriguing themes in Scandinavian history. In Dreamless, it's all about an obscure seventeenth century ballad, a lullaby (composed by a red-haired troubadour with a mysterious past) that promises dreamless sleep to the listener - and in the modern day, a very disturbed individual craves such sleep. Seeking to gain it, he kidnaps young women who sing beautifully, but they keep disappointing him.

When the first singer's corpse is found accompanied by a lovely, antique music box, Singsaker consults an expert who informs him that its mechanics were altered to play a particular tune. Then another young woman, Julie, disappears and readers share her struggle to survive her captivity and a monster's demands that she perform vocally. While this develops, Singsaker and Felicia finds themselves at odds, while their mutual friend Siri gets into trouble, while helping with the investigation.

A race against time turns into a violent confrontation that not all will survive. Both the modern and the historical murders are solved in a very satisfying fashion. Enjoy these excellent mysteries (police procedurals in two different eras) and don't skip the author's Afterword on the history of Trondheim.

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