The Killing – David Hewson

This is a novelization of a Danish television series that has attracted rave reviews for matching – if not exceeding – the high quality of the source material. The story is simple, but complex. The simple part is that a young girl is found, murdered, having been brutalized then dumped to drown in the boot of a car driven into a lake. The complex part is unraveling how she got there and who did it.

The central police character is a somewhat loose cannon called Sarah Lund. She is supposed to be going off to Sweden to start a new life with her son and boyfriend. But her last day turns up the young girl’s body, and from there things spiral out of control.

One reason for the chaos is that there is an election going on for the mayor, and the key challenger and his party are dragged in to the investigation. Politics being what it is (or can be) the truth about who was where, and when, and what they were doing, is not something the witnesses are so keen to divulge. So false lead follows false lead, until the investigation appears to be eating its one tail. At the same time, the distraught parents are eager for news and justice.

This is a brilliantly constructed crime story. The writing is terse, short, descriptive, and full of non stop action and an ever changing focus. Lund is a whirlwind, and her partner Meyer suffers from the fallout. There’s a bitter inevitability about the hunt that the author postpones with surprise after surprise. It’s a great example of a page turner that left me gasping for breath at the end, while simultaneously trying to work out how all the loose ends came together.

In short, it’s great.