Max Fjelllanger left Norway almost thirty years ago after an unsettling incident in his early career with the police. When he hears about the death of his former partner, Max feels compelled to return for the funeral. Knut Abrahamsen supposedly filled his pockets with rocks and walked into the water, but Max is uneasy about the verdict of suicide, partly because of where Knut drowned.
In 1985, both Max and Knut had been involved in the search for Peter Schram, a folklore researcher who disappeared on Midsummer Eve, and Max's own burden concerning that investigation revives his questions and guilt--especially about the corrupt sheriff who threatened him at the time. The case was never solved; the young man was never found. Max feels he bears some responsibility...and wonders if Knut, too, found the case haunting.
When Max discovers that Cecilie Weiborg, who had also been researching pagan traditions and the Stave Church in Eidsborg, disappeared on the previous Midsummer Eve, he finds the coincidence too close for comfort. Instinct tells him that the disappearances of the two folklorists and Knut's death might be connected.
In the meantime, Tirill Vesterli, a librarian who loves mystery novels and wants to be a detective, is concerned when a man who has been stalking her returns after an absence. She has her own theories about what happened to Cecilie Wieborg--she believes Cecilie's research into pagan folklore associated with the Stave Church in Eidsborg put the young woman in danger.
Tirill is the highlight in this novel that is full of dark and atmospheric landscapes. She is whip-smart, intuitive, and an intriguing mixture of quirky and practical. Max eventually (reluctantly) teams up with Tirill, and the two make an excellent duo, playing to each other's strengths.
Tales of the ghostly monk and pagan rites may be more than embellished folklore, and Max and Tirill find that secrets of the past are still being protected, regardless of the human cost.
|Eidsborg Stave Church; source|
NetGalley/University of Minnesota Press
Mystery/Suspense. Sept. 26, 2017. Print length: 280 pages.