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The Ninth Grave: A Fabian Risk Novel    by Stefan Ahnhem order for
Ninth Grave
by Stefan Ahnhem
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's another very well crafted, but rather dark and gory Scandinavian mystery. In Stefan Ahnhem's The Ninth Grave (translated by Paul Norlen), the action moves mainly between Sweden and Denmark, though it has its roots far away from either country, in the Middle East.

This is the second (following Victim Without a Face) in a series starring Swedish criminal investigator Fabian Risk, a brilliant but obsessive detective who continues to do poorly balancing work with his family life. Danish police officer Dunja again plays a major role as does Fabian's partner Malin, who's struggling with the 'pregnancy from hell' (she's carrying twins).

The author begins ten years before the main events of the story with what started it all - a Romeo & Juliet attraction between Israeli Efraim and a Palestinian young woman. It ended very badly for Efraim, but the love of his short life, Aisha, ended up in Sweden, where, by a series of serendipitous events, his last words reached her.

Years later, a series of abductions and gruesome deaths erupts in Sweden and Denmark. Some of the victims seem to feel that they deserve what's happening to them - why? Fabian is called in when the Minister of Justice disappears, but feels sure his boss Edelman is withholding key information. He reaches out to good looking, highly talented IT investigator Niva, but keeps it from his jealous wife Sonja.

The plot is unusual and outstanding. The story rambles all over the Scandinavian map, pulling Fabian, Malin and Dunja into trouble with their superiors and personal peril. They're collateral damage to a skilled perpetrator very focused on completing a specific set of gruesome tasks. Readers will not figure out what and why till very close to the end.

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