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

Stefan Ahnhem writes dark and gory, yet brilliant, Scandinavian mysteries. Victim Without a Face introduced Swedish detective Fabian Risk, investigating the horrific murders of childhood classmates. He worked unofficially with Danish police officer Dunja. In the second episode, The Ninth Grave, the action moved between Sweden and Denmark, but its killings were rooted in the Middle East.

Now, Anhem brings fans the third in the series, Eighteen Below, a terrifying tale of identity theft and serial killings, after which the victims' assets are thoroughly mined and stolen. The story begins with quite a bang - a car crash, after which the driver is found to have been killed and kept frozen (hence the title) for two months. Police follow the money trail, struggling to find a link between this and subsequent killings.

In the meantime, Fabian tries to support his boss, Astrid, who's drinking on the job. He's also still trying to repair his marriage to Sonja, an artist whose career seems to be taking off. Their moody son Theodor is seeing a therapist after almost being killed in The Ninth Grave. Now he gets involved with a teen femme fatale, Alexandra, and his world is 'ripped to shreds.'

In Denmark, despite her misogynistic ex-boss having derailed her career (and still doing everything he can to ruin her), Dunja stubbornly investigates vicious and seemingly random teen gang attacks (a trend called Happy slapping that started in England), but fails to convince her superiors that this is what is happening. Reading, one wonders how all these plot threads will come together.

Stefan Ahnhem plays his usual magic trick to make that happen, with a suspenseful, heart-stopping finale, that brings his job all too close to home for Fabian. At the end of the book, there are tantalizing lead ins to the next in the series. Eighteen Below is the author's best yet and I look forward to what comes next for Fabian and Dunja.

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