Well, we’ve made it into the last few weeks of winter. Slowly but steadily the evenings are getting lighter, and soon it will start to warm up again. For now, though, there’s still plenty of frost and ice about – and that suits our February Book of the Month just fine, thank you very much.
The Girl Without Skin from ‘the master of Arctic crime’ Mads Peder Nordbo is – wait for it – chilling stuff. (Sorry). In Greenland’s capital Nuuk, American-Danish journalist Matthew Cave spends his working hours reporting on the Greenland Reconciliation Commission, and in sleep is haunted by nightmares of the car accident that killed his pregnant wife. When a frozen body – suspected to be the mummified corpse of a Norseman – is uncovered out on the ice, Matthew is sent to cover the story by virtue of being the only person in the office when the phone rings. It’s his first lucky break in a while.
The discovery of a mummified Norseman would be global news, providing an unprecedented look at the lives of Vikings in Greenland. Matt and his photographer friend Malik painstakingly document the site and return home with the scoop of a lifetime – until Malik’s studio is burgled, and every image of the mummy is stolen. Without the pictures there is no story, so the pair return to the discovery site with officers from the local police department. As their helicopter comes into land, though, they notice a wide slick of red across the ice. The body is gone – and Officer Aqqalu, assigned to supervise the site throughout the night, has been murdered and gutted.
In a small city like Nuuk, a crime like this is difficult to get away with; or so one would think. Keen to keep Matt’s mind off the morning’s grisly events, and obliged to hold back the story of Officer Aqqalu’s murder until the police have informed his family, Matt’s editor suggests he look into a series of murders from the 1970s that were never solved. The cold case killings and the death of Office Aqqalu share disturbing similarities, and the more he digs into one case, the further Matt finds himself embroiled in the other. Is the missing mummy the key to finding out what really happened in Nuuk all those years ago? And if so, who is trying to stop the past from becoming present?
The Girl Without Skin is an intricate masterclass in Arctic crime, with a tense and thrilling plot. As Krimifan wrote in their review;
“The Girl Without Skin has everything the heart of a true crime fan could desire. Murder, eeriness, shivers, superstition, terrible secrets – but at the same time you can feel the author’s affection for Greenland.”
Further praise has come from the AU Review and Canberra Weekly, among others.
“This intricate crime novel mixes a grisly plot with interesting insights into Greenland’s history and culture.”
– Canberra Weekly
“While there are similarities to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, Nordbo’s writing is far more poetic. Though dazzled by the icecap’s beauty, he’s not blinded to the darkness of man.”
– SA Weekend
“A very satisfying thriller. Packed to the brim with grisly murders, corrupt officials, and sinister secrets, all set against the bleak, yet oddly beautiful, Greenlandic landscape, the bar has certainly been set quite high for the series to come.”
– AU Review
The Girl Without Skin is published by Text on 28th February
(9781911231226, p/b, £10.99)