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Victim Without a Face: A Fabian Risk Novel    by Stefan Ahnhem order for
Victim Without a Face
by Stefan Ahnhem
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's another unusual Scandinavian noir mystery, laced with elements of horror. Stefan Ahnhem's Victim Without a Face (translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles) introduces Swedish detective Fabian Risk as he investigates the horrific murders of childhood classmates.

Fabian has recently transferred from Stockholm to the criminal investigation department of his hometown of Helsingborg. He's hoping to escape the memories that haunt him, to repair his marriage to his neglected wife Sonja, and to improve his relationships with his daughter Matilda and moody teen son Theodor.

They're settling into their new home when Fabian's boss shows up, asking him to start early. An old schoolmate (the class bully) has been murdered, his hands chopped off - and it's just the beginning. When the bully's best friend is next, police wonder if one of their victims is seeking revenge.

As the tally of corpses grows (including a woman who had been their teacher), Fabian becomes more and more obsessed with the case. Acting without authorization, he makes an error in judgment resulting in collateral damage - and very bad press for him. The killer zeroes in on Fabian as central to his long laid plans.

As all this evolves, Fabian and Dunja, a Danish police officer, work together unofficially. Dunja has her own problems, a misogynistic boss without ethics who only seeks to boost his own career and has it in for her. But she's persistent too, and has Fabian's back when he - and his family - really need it.

Victim Without a Face is very dark, most unusual (in both the killer's motivation and methods) and totally absorbing. If you're looking for something different in a mystery and don't mind plenty of blood and gore, this one is for you.

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