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A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. Richmond homicide detective Felicia S A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. Richmond homicide detective Felicia Stone and Trondheim police inspector Odd Singsaker find themselves working on similar murder cases, committed the same way, but half a world away. And both murders are somehow connected to a sixteenth century palimpsest book—The Book of John—which appears to be a journal of a serial murderer back in 1529 Norway, a book bound in human skin.


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A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. Richmond homicide detective Felicia S A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. Richmond homicide detective Felicia Stone and Trondheim police inspector Odd Singsaker find themselves working on similar murder cases, committed the same way, but half a world away. And both murders are somehow connected to a sixteenth century palimpsest book—The Book of John—which appears to be a journal of a serial murderer back in 1529 Norway, a book bound in human skin.

30 review for Where Monsters Dwell

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    There must be a reason (or many) the Nordic thriller sub-genre is not only popular but considered among the best examples in Mystery literature by the critics. The complicated characters, the minimalistic, yet layered, writing, the plots that often span decades, even centuries, merging History into Mystery, and the eerie atmosphere of the long wintery darkness are elements that make the Nordic thrillers so engaging. And all these are features of Where Evil Lies by Jørgen Brekke. I'd classify this There must be a reason (or many) the Nordic thriller sub-genre is not only popular but considered among the best examples in Mystery literature by the critics. The complicated characters, the minimalistic, yet layered, writing, the plots that often span decades, even centuries, merging History into Mystery, and the eerie atmosphere of the long wintery darkness are elements that make the Nordic thrillers so engaging. And all these are features of Where Evil Lies by Jørgen Brekke. I'd classify this book amongst the best I've read in this category. It has an interesting plot, a mystery with hints that can be traced back to the 1500's Trondheim, a bookish flair, realistic characters and vivid descriptions of the Norwegian landscape. Our two main characters, Odd and Felicia are pleasant, sympathetic and with their own battles to fight, but they do not fall into the cliché description of the troubled, brooding, can't-smile-because- I-might-fall-dead inspector. The interractions between these two are well-written, even funny at certain instances, emphasizing the cultural differences. And no, (view spoiler)[I don't think that they fell in love too easily. (hide spoiler)] On the other hand, I just couldn't stand the character of Siri. Her behaviour was cringe-worthy. The solution of the mystery wasn't that unexpected, not because it was predictable, but because Brekke kept his cast of characters at a low level, something that helped the story move much faster. I loved the historical parts that took us all the way back to 16th century Norway. They gave a special substance to the plot. Although I've read and, hopefully, will read many Nordic thrillers in the future,Where Evil Lies was engaging, atmospheric, and for once, I couldn't notice whether certain things were lost in translation. Plus, I need to visit Trondheim some day...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patrice Hoffman

    Where Monsters Dwell by Jorgen Brekke is slated as being the most anticipated Norwegian crime fiction debut in years and is now being released in English. I must admit that this novel was quite good and I can see why it is on the short list for lovers of crime novels. A brutal murder has taken place in The Edgar Allen Poe museum in Richmond, Virginia. It's not long before that murder is linked to another gruesome murder in Trondheim, Norway in the Gunnerus Library. These murders bring together F Where Monsters Dwell by Jorgen Brekke is slated as being the most anticipated Norwegian crime fiction debut in years and is now being released in English. I must admit that this novel was quite good and I can see why it is on the short list for lovers of crime novels. A brutal murder has taken place in The Edgar Allen Poe museum in Richmond, Virginia. It's not long before that murder is linked to another gruesome murder in Trondheim, Norway in the Gunnerus Library. These murders bring together Felicia Stone of Virginia and Odd Singsaker of Trondheim where they are on the trail of a killer who may be killing because of a sixteenth century palimpsest book. What's most interesting about this book, The Johannes Book, is that it was bound in human skin. Awesome? Yes! Jorgen Brekke writes the novel from a few different points of view and even throws in some historical scenes that gives this novel a certain depth that causes readers to question what is real and what isn't. Thankfully Brekke includes clarification on what is a figment of his imagination and is actually true to history. Although I liked the historic aspect, it is the main characters Felicia and Odd that really captivated my attention. Felicia is obviously a good detective or else she wouldn't have been assigned to such a devastating crime. She also holds a past that the author goes into with great depth and detail. The only thing lacking is how she rise above it all. Odd is equally interesting as he's back on the job after recovering from a brain tumor. I liked him very much. I look forward to reading more books featuring Odd. Ultimately, I really enjoyed reading Where Monsters Dwell and hope that this won't be the last English translation. What this novel suggests is that we all wear masks and it may be more brave to just take the mask off. Copy provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Stieg Larsson did more than just give us the great Millenium series. He opened the door for translations of other Scandinavian authors like Jo Nesbo, Jussi Adler-Olsen & now Jorgen Brekke. This is not for the faint of heart but it's a fast paced thriller that will keep you turning the pages. Who knew human skin could be so versatile. It begins by telling the story of mendicant monk in 1528 Norway. In chapters alternating with the present, we learn of his life & how his actions contribute to a str Stieg Larsson did more than just give us the great Millenium series. He opened the door for translations of other Scandinavian authors like Jo Nesbo, Jussi Adler-Olsen & now Jorgen Brekke. This is not for the faint of heart but it's a fast paced thriller that will keep you turning the pages. Who knew human skin could be so versatile. It begins by telling the story of mendicant monk in 1528 Norway. In chapters alternating with the present, we learn of his life & how his actions contribute to a string of horrific murders committed in present day. Johannes spent an itinerant childhood travelling with Olav the beard cutter, a mysterious barber/surgeon. Olav's knives were his pride & joy & eventually the two settle in Venice where they become assistants to Master Alessandro, a ground breaking anatomist. But Johannes' travels are far from over & his life will change dramatically. In present day Richmond, VA, we meet Efrahim Bond who has worked at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum for over 20 years. He has a secret. He recently discovered hidden writing on vellum used to bind a book by Lord Byron. It has the potential to shock historians & make him famous but unfortunately, he won't be around to enjoy it. He's found one morning hanging off a statue of Poe with his throat cut, decapitated & torso flayed.His skin is missing. This is the first big case for homicide investigator Felicia Stone. After battling substance abuse as a young woman, she ended up a cop like her dad. Suspects & motive are hard to come by but there is one weird clue. Bond sent a piece of the Lord Byron book for analysis & it turns out the vellum was human skin, not calf. Meanwhile in Trondheim, Norway, we meet Jon Vatten. He was a promising academic until his wife & son disappeared 5 years ago. Now he works as a security guard at the Gunnerus Library, famous for housing the Johannes Book. It's the diary of a 16th century monk bound in fine vellum. Some of the pages are missing but it's renowned for accurate drawings of human anatomy. It's locked in a special vault & when Jon & Siri, the new librarian, open the door one day they find more than the book. Gunn, her predecessor, is lying on the floor decapitated with her torso flayed. Her skin is missing. Chief Inspector Odd Singsaker has just returned to work following brain surgery & his memory is not what it was. He catches the case & realizes Gunn & her husband Jens are neighbours of his. So is Jon who he investigated 5 years ago in the disappearance of his family. Jens is an archeologist who found the Johannes Book during the dig of a mass grave near Fossum & had it donated to the library. Many of the human remains bore similar marks of a violent death. Eventually, Felicia & Odd become aware of the murders in the other's country & hook up to compare notes. Several people have ties to bot places including one from Felicia's past. They all want the book for one reason or another but in the uproar after Gunn's death, it's missing. Odd & Felicia dig deeper & discover hidden plots & lies that keep the reader guessing as to which of the characters is responsible for the crimes. Everyone seems to have a hidden agenda & while investigating the murders, mysteries from the past will also be resolved. There are many peripheral characters but the story revolves around Felicia & Odd. They are compelling people, both dealing with personal issues while facing increasing danger as they get closer to identifying the killer. I liked these two & wanted to see them overcome their private fears. The author uses their relationship to contrast the differing cultures & police procedures. But this is Scandinavian noir. It's a dark, at times bleak story of gruesome murders & a truly twisted killer. It's also a cautionary tale of how you can never really know someone & appearances can deceive whether it's the 16th century or the 21st. One of the most fascinating parts of the novel is following the Johannes Book, a central character in itself, as it touches lives over the course of 400 years. The author uses it to remind us if you don't know history, you are condemned to repeat it. In the final pages, the reader learns the truth behind the book in a nice little twist that would have really ticked off the killer. There are some passages of dialogue that seem a bit stilted but could be due to blips in translation. This is the first of a series featuring Odd & Felicia and I'll definitely pick up the next one to follow their stories. Be prepared for some "eewww" moments but if you enjoy intricate thrillers with compelling characters & a great historical element, this is for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. NOTE: THE SPOILER ALERT ISN'T SHOWING UP WHEN I LOOK AT THIS REVIEW, SO BE WARNED -- THERE ARE SPOILERS!! I'm really surprised by all the 4+ star reviews. I don't read a lot of mysteries -- maybe the genre is so lacking in good stories that this one, somehow, seems to fill the void? Seems unlikely, but . . . The story in a nutshell: Two gruesome murders, one in Virginia in the U.S., the other in Norway. Two detectives working the case, one a man recovering from brain surgery, the other a woman fig NOTE: THE SPOILER ALERT ISN'T SHOWING UP WHEN I LOOK AT THIS REVIEW, SO BE WARNED -- THERE ARE SPOILERS!! I'm really surprised by all the 4+ star reviews. I don't read a lot of mysteries -- maybe the genre is so lacking in good stories that this one, somehow, seems to fill the void? Seems unlikely, but . . . The story in a nutshell: Two gruesome murders, one in Virginia in the U.S., the other in Norway. Two detectives working the case, one a man recovering from brain surgery, the other a woman fighting to overcome the demons from her past. One murderer, no, make that two, no, one, no . . . Okay, how about one murderer and several red herrings? Oh, and we mustn't forget the abduction/murder that opens the books -- some how, some way, this WILL become relevant to the story! It's a mess. The writing is somewhat interesting, even compelling at times, when set in Norway. From the author bio, it seems as though this is where the author was born and raised, so perhaps writing about the people and places there comes more naturally to him? It all falls apart when we come back to the States, though -- there's a weird undercurrent of disdain that keeps surfacing in these parts, as if the author can't quite hide his contempt for America? In which case, my advice would be to stick with stories set in Norway. Another complaint is this book's characterization of women -- if this is what he thinks of women, I hope I never meet him. In his world, women are all quite eager to "service" men at the drop of a hat, all in aid of . . . what? It's never quite clear. The one woman who changes her mind about sex is assaulted, and her life spirals completely out of control within mere weeks. She eventually recovers enough to function (with male intervention, naturally), although it's made quite clear that she's not really a complete person as she struggles with dealing with her assault on a minute by minute basis. Her redemption comes when she finally overcomes her past and "gives" herself to a man she met only days before, and we're led to believe she will be leaving her old life behind completely to move to Norway in order to be with him. Frownie face. The rest isn't much better. I had initially decided to discuss more than just this one part of the book in depth, but I'm kind of losing my will to live here. Just thinking about the disposable characters, muddled storyline (which also involves a serial killer/priest -- or is he?! -- from the 1500s), clumsy clue dropping, the laughable "villain" who ultimately has no motive for his crimes, as well as the dubious red herrings, makes me want to take an aspirin and have a nap. It's all just so disappointing. The author is apparently hard at work on the sequel to this book, which I'm sure will cause great rejoicing for most readers. I hope he's able to tighten up, well, everything. His ideas are interesting, he just needs help on the follow through.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Benoit Lelièvre

    It's not the writing that's the problem with WHERE MONSTERS DWELL. It's often compelling. Arresting sometimes, even. It's not the characters' nature either. Some of them are tired clichés, but others are layered and original and make up for paper thin ones. Let's start with the confusing timelines... It's a pet peeve of mine when a novel uses historical setting to blow some air into its scope. There are maybe 30, 40 pages set in the 1500's and these pages have very little use in the storyline. Wha It's not the writing that's the problem with WHERE MONSTERS DWELL. It's often compelling. Arresting sometimes, even. It's not the characters' nature either. Some of them are tired clichés, but others are layered and original and make up for paper thin ones. Let's start with the confusing timelines... It's a pet peeve of mine when a novel uses historical setting to blow some air into its scope. There are maybe 30, 40 pages set in the 1500's and these pages have very little use in the storyline. What happened in the historical flashbacks could've been synthetized in 5 pages or so. Then, there is the poor research. WHERE MONSTERS DWELL is supposed to be a police procedural and shows very little understanding of what a bizarre ritualistic murder is about. One of the investigators, who keep bragging she had a class on serial killers, keeps comparing this case to Ed Gein because both killers skinned their victims, but she makes no difference between backwood murders and a sophisticated staging in a museum and the cops say generally astoundingly stupid things like : 'Murder is a form of expression humanity doesn't need.' There's also the female character who literally BLOWS every male in her sight and everybody acts normal about it (it's disgusting). There's also a GRAPHIC depiction of a forced blow job (from another character POV), VERY disgusting, trigger warning and the book could've done without it, really. This was just added pathos that I could've done without. I admit skimming some pages out of frustration. I pondered about DNF'ing, but I finished anyway. I read this book so you don't have to. Someone will have to explain to me why this was a #1 International Best-Seller. I thought it sucked.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jaksen

    Wonderfully-crafted, complex murder mystery set in present-day Richmond, Virginia and Trondheim, Norway. (There's also another piece set in 1500's Norway.) This book has multiple layers to it - two MC's; two locations in modern times, and one in the 1500's. (It is clearly stated where, what and when things are happening, though, so no confusion there.) The story involves the horrific, skin-flaying murders of two people - one in Virginia; one in Norway - which happen at about the same time and see Wonderfully-crafted, complex murder mystery set in present-day Richmond, Virginia and Trondheim, Norway. (There's also another piece set in 1500's Norway.) This book has multiple layers to it - two MC's; two locations in modern times, and one in the 1500's. (It is clearly stated where, what and when things are happening, though, so no confusion there.) The story involves the horrific, skin-flaying murders of two people - one in Virginia; one in Norway - which happen at about the same time and seem to involve the same ancient book, its text written on human skin. In comes two investigators, Odd Singsaker in Norway; Felicia Stone in Virginia. There are subplots and asides, and yet everything comes together at the end with twists and surprises I did not see coming. Getting ready to read the next book by Mr. Brekke. This one was a winner.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    This one was very, very close. I considered going 5 stars on it and am still considering changing the rating. What we have here is a mystery/thriller with murders on both sides of the Atlantic. The two detectives begin to put this together as they try to figure out what ties together two gruesome murders (or more) in two countries. And how a rare book, possibly bound in human flesh and Edgar Allen Poe tie into this. I thought the book was well written and almost enthralling at times (and remember I This one was very, very close. I considered going 5 stars on it and am still considering changing the rating. What we have here is a mystery/thriller with murders on both sides of the Atlantic. The two detectives begin to put this together as they try to figure out what ties together two gruesome murders (or more) in two countries. And how a rare book, possibly bound in human flesh and Edgar Allen Poe tie into this. I thought the book was well written and almost enthralling at times (and remember I'm reading a translation). I never got bored, I never had trouble picking the book back up when I'd had to lay ot aside. I'll be looking for more books by this writer to be translated into English. I can recommend this one highly for mystery and thriller fans (though go into it knowing it deals with very gruesome killings with bodies flayed and beheaded).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roy

    I was underwhelmed. Perhaps something was lost in the translation but the writing in this book didn't strike me as good enough to make it past form rejection letters from agents/publishers. Yet this didn't stop it from being published and apparently becoming an international best seller. How that happened is a much bigger mystery to me than the one solved between the front and back covers. I was underwhelmed. Perhaps something was lost in the translation but the writing in this book didn't strike me as good enough to make it past form rejection letters from agents/publishers. Yet this didn't stop it from being published and apparently becoming an international best seller. How that happened is a much bigger mystery to me than the one solved between the front and back covers.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jon Recluse

    This was an ARC from NetGalley. Two brutal murders in libraries an ocean apart begins a manhunt that goes from Virginia to Norway, connected to an ancient book from the early days of anatomical study. An engaging debut novel, blending serial killer thriller and historical mystery. The author moves between locations and timelines smoothly, offering up a wealth of historical fact without bogging down the pace. 3.5 stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    I could never quite warm up to this book. It wasn't poorly written, but I felt that the storyline just kept jumping from locations/periods of time that it would make it difficult to follow. There were also aspects to the storyline that felt that they "just didn't fit" or that I couldn't figure out how/why they figured into the storyline, except to give a "shock" moment. I must admit that this is an author whose books I would give another chance to. I could never quite warm up to this book. It wasn't poorly written, but I felt that the storyline just kept jumping from locations/periods of time that it would make it difficult to follow. There were also aspects to the storyline that felt that they "just didn't fit" or that I couldn't figure out how/why they figured into the storyline, except to give a "shock" moment. I must admit that this is an author whose books I would give another chance to.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ken Fredette

    Jørgen Brekke's book Where Monsters Dwell was a super story about a couple of murders that were in the US and Norway. Felicia Stone and Odd Singsaker both become involved in both murders. It's a quick paced story that becomes clearer as the book progresses, as do the affairs both people have. Jørgen Brekke's book Where Monsters Dwell was a super story about a couple of murders that were in the US and Norway. Felicia Stone and Odd Singsaker both become involved in both murders. It's a quick paced story that becomes clearer as the book progresses, as do the affairs both people have.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janet Martin

    Definitely better than a 4, but not quite 5. I very much enjoyed this book. It jumped around a quite a bit, but I had no problems following the story. Excellent characters, and I look forward to the next 2 episodes which are all that's available in English. Definitely better than a 4, but not quite 5. I very much enjoyed this book. It jumped around a quite a bit, but I had no problems following the story. Excellent characters, and I look forward to the next 2 episodes which are all that's available in English.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Thriller Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of mysteries that are not easily solved, thriller/suspense novels, Scandinavian fiction Book Available: February 11, 2014 in hardcover and Kindle format Trigger Warnings: murder, torture, sexual assault, drug abuse, overdose, attempted suicide Animal Abuse: little boy throws cat into river to test the “cats always land feet down” hypothesis; he did not mean to harm the cat, but the cat was swept away in the current and out Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Thriller Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of mysteries that are not easily solved, thriller/suspense novels, Scandinavian fiction Book Available: February 11, 2014 in hardcover and Kindle format Trigger Warnings: murder, torture, sexual assault, drug abuse, overdose, attempted suicide Animal Abuse: little boy throws cat into river to test the “cats always land feet down” hypothesis; he did not mean to harm the cat, but the cat was swept away in the current and out to sea, where it presumably drowned; the kid also held the cat by the tail My Thoughts: This is the first book in the Odd Singsaker series, which is very popular in Norway. Odd is an interesting character. We meet him as he returns to work for the first time since having a tumor removed from his brain. He has lost a lot of his memories as a result. In fact, all the characters are excellent, full of quirks and qualities that make them human and relateable. This is done so well that it was impossible for me to figure out who the killer was prior to it being revealed. There are just so many twists and turns, red herrings sprinkled in with the clues, that the mystery was kept mysterious right up to the ending. Many of the characters were quite tragic. Felicia and her sexual assault in high school, Odd and his broken family, Vatten and the loss of his wife and child... This gives additional depth and interest to each character that really helps to fill them out. This isn't as dark as some Scandinavian fiction I've read, but it is certainly as good quality as any of them. If you enjoy mysteries that are difficult to crack, suspense/thrillers, and Scandinavian fiction, then definitely watch for this one. Disclosure: I received an ARC from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Synopsis: A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. Richmond homicide detective Felicia Stone and Trondheim police inspector Odd Singsaker find themselves working on similar murder cases, committed the same way, but half a world away. And both murders are somehow connected to a sixteenth century palimpsest book—The Book of John—which appears to be a journal of a serial murderer back in 1529 Norway, a book bound in human skin. 

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Mensing

    Early in WHERE MONSTERS DWELL, a character who collects mystery books discusses their plot narrative. She refers to a “rule of three,” according to which the first third of a mystery introduces the perpetrator, the second third endeavors to divert attention from the murderer, and the final third brings the murderer back into focus. Jorgen Brekke follows this narrative structure in the complex plot of WHERE MONSTERS DWELL as he weaves threads from a murder at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmo Early in WHERE MONSTERS DWELL, a character who collects mystery books discusses their plot narrative. She refers to a “rule of three,” according to which the first third of a mystery introduces the perpetrator, the second third endeavors to divert attention from the murderer, and the final third brings the murderer back into focus. Jorgen Brekke follows this narrative structure in the complex plot of WHERE MONSTERS DWELL as he weaves threads from a murder at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, with those from a similar murder in Trondheim, Norway. In addition to this geographical diversity, Brekke moves the action back and forth between the 16th century and the present. In both Richmond and Trondheim, within a matter of a few weeks, a murderer kills and flays his victims, removing their skin and their heads. Why such a thing should happen slowly becomes clear as it is discovered that a book bound with human skin plays a role in both libraries where the murders occur. The story behind that book takes the reader on a historical journey to the 16th century when anatomical knowledge was increasing through the practice of dissection and even vivisection. At first, the detectives in each location labor alone without knowledge of the murders across the Atlantic, but a tie is made and Richmond’s homicide investigator, Felicia Stone, travels to Norway to join forces with Norway’s police detective, Odd Singsaker. This is the first book in a series, and Brekke develops the main characters deeply. Felicia Stone comes to police work after a tough battle with drugs as an adolescent. The cause for her drug use is also tied tangentially to the story surrounding the murders. Odd Singsaker is just back on the force after having a brain tumor removed, and he knows several of the suspects through previous police work and as neighbors. The solution to the crime provides a new start for both Singsaker and Stone. Throughout much of the book, especially the middle third, virtually everyone who is not a member of law enforcement is a suspect, but Brekke does not short-change the full character development of those suspects. Each person introduced in the book is a nuanced character, and it is possible to see each as either guilty or innocent. The book ends on a surprisingly upbeat note for one that is so dark and violent throughout. Although this is the first published in the English, Brekke has written two more in the Odd Singsaker series, so I am hopeful that the others will be published in English soon and that, since the series is ongoing, more will be forthcoming.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Coming February 2014 from St Martins Press Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. My latest foray into the world of Scandinavian Cri Coming February 2014 from St Martins Press Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. My latest foray into the world of Scandinavian Crime brought me here to “Where Monsters Dwell” a dark and terrifying tale of murder and madness. Cleverly written and intense this one held my attention from the start – it has been a while coming to the UK, but I had been aware of it from some time. It does have a fairly complicated start in that we do a lot of jumping around from location to location, between past and present, and the author presents us with a fair bit of information all in the early pages – but the richness of the writing style and the intensity of the plot draw you in none the less and soon you will have it all straight in your head. This is the kind of crime novel I love – where the author assumes the intelligence of the reader and does not feel the need to explain the obvious. It IS violent in places, perhaps not for the faint hearted, but it is all directly related to the plot and in no way gratuitous. Two murders, continents apart but with eerie similarities – this is the premise from which the entire story unfolds and it is a compelling one. American Detective Felicia Stone and Norwegian detective Odd Singsaker work together to try and uncover the clues – they were both great characters if a little light on detailed personality at this stage – I believe this is going to be a series and that is exactly how it felt..their relationship is in its infancy here and needs to develop. Having said that, in this particular case its the story that is the key, a twisty turny whale of a tale set in two timelines, present day and the 1500′s. We jump from one to another as we start to learn how the past is affecting the now..the juxtaposition of the two periods of time is extremely well done and utterly fascinating. Overall highly enjoyable, well translated and if you love serial killers, dark and dastardly goings on and a fair bit of wonderful gruesomeness then this one is definitely for you. I look forward to the next instalment. Happy Reading Folks!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This is such an absolutely terrible book. The first half is mediocre and mildly interesting, but then it just runs off the rails and explodes. The women characters are flat caricatures, and written horribly. They're quite literally virgin/whore with nothing in between. The coincidences needed to tie the plot together were eyebrow-raising at best. And perhaps most offensive of all, in a book about police, the police work is laughable. A five-year-old could have run a better investigation than the This is such an absolutely terrible book. The first half is mediocre and mildly interesting, but then it just runs off the rails and explodes. The women characters are flat caricatures, and written horribly. They're quite literally virgin/whore with nothing in between. The coincidences needed to tie the plot together were eyebrow-raising at best. And perhaps most offensive of all, in a book about police, the police work is laughable. A five-year-old could have run a better investigation than these two. I know it's a crime fiction trope to have reckless detectives forging their own path, but seriously, some of the stellar policing tactics on display here: (view spoiler)[ Having sex with a witness and possible suspect two hours after meeting her. Having the murder victim's husband and probable suspect examine the fucking MURDER WEAPON for you (cause you can't find anyone better? Anyone at all?) A paragraph-long explanation of how to do a Google search. A Google search. I just. I can't. (hide spoiler)] Don't even get me started on using rape as a tool to create "dark", "gritty" backstory (and the only POSSIBLE way to give a female character "depth". Or the character who, in the middle of dying an agonizing death, takes the time to bequeath his fucking bicycle to a cop. Or the characters without any chemistry whatsoever having sex because hey, he's got a p and she's got a v so might as well toss them together. The "sex solves all traumas" resolution. And the writing. God. An actual sentence from this book: Rage and waffles. Rage. And. Waffles. I tell you what, this book makes me want to go eat some rage waffles. Ugh. I'm not normally so emphatic about books I dislike. If they're not for me, they might be for someone. But this book just infuriated me to no end.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Richard Gazala

    Jørgen Brekke adds his interesting and grisly police procedural "Where Monsters Dwell" to the wave of Scandinavian thrillers that have intrigued readers since the explosive popularity of Stieg Larrson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and its two "Millennium" sequels. In this novel, disturbing copycat murders at museums in Richmond, Virginia and Trondheim, Norway spur investigations that do not long remain bifurcated by the Atlantic. After exhausting her leads in the States, Virginian detecti Jørgen Brekke adds his interesting and grisly police procedural "Where Monsters Dwell" to the wave of Scandinavian thrillers that have intrigued readers since the explosive popularity of Stieg Larrson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and its two "Millennium" sequels. In this novel, disturbing copycat murders at museums in Richmond, Virginia and Trondheim, Norway spur investigations that do not long remain bifurcated by the Atlantic. After exhausting her leads in the States, Virginian detective Felicia Stone jets to Norway to marshal limited resources with her Norwegian counterpart Odd Singsaker. They join to uncover a twisted scheme whose tendrils slither as much among ancient scalpels and "The Book of Johannes," an esoteric16th century tome, as they do in the present. As is fairly typical of this genre, Brekke's principal characters are both deep and deeply flawed, as well as various shades of lonely and damaged. They're also very interesting, as is the deadly maze Brekke constructs to torment them until the story's end. At times the writing is wooden (likely attributable to the translation from Norwegian into English), and the pacing drags, but overall "Where Monsters Dwell" is a satisfying diversion for admirers of authors like Larsson, Nesbo, Theorin, et al.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    A very ambitious mystery about duplicate murders in Richmond Virginia and Trondheim Norway with a historical connection to a serial killer in 16th century Norway. Billed as an international bestseller, I was intrigued by it's unusually original plot summary. After a lengthy set up, the payoff was worth the wait by it's excellent translation, good, solid characters, dialogue and a surprise ending that hit me like a sledgehammer. Harry Hole even makes a cameo mention during a meeting by Trondheim A very ambitious mystery about duplicate murders in Richmond Virginia and Trondheim Norway with a historical connection to a serial killer in 16th century Norway. Billed as an international bestseller, I was intrigued by it's unusually original plot summary. After a lengthy set up, the payoff was worth the wait by it's excellent translation, good, solid characters, dialogue and a surprise ending that hit me like a sledgehammer. Harry Hole even makes a cameo mention during a meeting by Trondheim PD detectives researching serial killers. One of the detectives suggested talking to a detective in Oslo about his experience solving a serial killer case in Australia but decided to pass since the Oslo detective was a drunk. Creative association, you might say. Recovering from brain surgery, Trondheim Chief Inspector Odd Singsaker, his American counterpart Richmond Detective Felicia Stone and a wonderful Norwegian cast of interesting characters work to solve this brutally savage crime. The who and the why are what drive the plot. The author, Jorgen Brekke, is writing a sequel which will automatically be an international bestseller when published - and a must read for me. Read "Where Monsters Dwell" and you will clearly understand why.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    Brekke is a new Scandinavian author to add to my list. The story is very well written, suspenseful, not easy to figure out. The characters are likable and smart (even if going to arrest serial killers unarmed is, as I've said before, probably not the best idea). The dialogs are snappy and the historical aspect of the novel is interesting. I especially enjoyed the discussions about crime novels, literary detectives, and classic whodunits that bring down the fourth wall a little. Here is a fiction Brekke is a new Scandinavian author to add to my list. The story is very well written, suspenseful, not easy to figure out. The characters are likable and smart (even if going to arrest serial killers unarmed is, as I've said before, probably not the best idea). The dialogs are snappy and the historical aspect of the novel is interesting. I especially enjoyed the discussions about crime novels, literary detectives, and classic whodunits that bring down the fourth wall a little. Here is a fictional detective discussing others of his ilk. I'm bummed that, as Ms. Holmes points out, solving crimes in novels is not the same as actual police work (note to self: do not ever try to do it yourself in real life it probably won't end well). Loved the shout-out to Harry Hole, one of my personal favorites - I demand a crossover novel with him, Singsaker and Stone! I've already downloaded the next book in the series.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    Whoa! Intricately plotted, with a diabolically grisly plot and complex, likable characters...I could not stop reading this thriller. The protagonist, Norwegian detective Odd Singsaker, is recovering from an operation for a tumor that nearly killed him and is still doing strange things with his memory. The present case may be mixed up with one he can't quite remember, and there's a strange southern woman from the States whose case may be connected, too. The complexity enhances the story rather th Whoa! Intricately plotted, with a diabolically grisly plot and complex, likable characters...I could not stop reading this thriller. The protagonist, Norwegian detective Odd Singsaker, is recovering from an operation for a tumor that nearly killed him and is still doing strange things with his memory. The present case may be mixed up with one he can't quite remember, and there's a strange southern woman from the States whose case may be connected, too. The complexity enhances the story rather than being over the top a la Dan Brown. This was fun to read and hard to figure out. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Where Monsters Dwell is the first in a series about Norwegian detective, Odd Singsaker. In this one, he works closely with American detectives after two cases with shocking similarities occur across the ocean at nearly the same time. Where Monsters Dwell was an interesting mix of perspectives, dealing with the crime in Norway as well as the crime in Virginia. The balance between how two sets of police handle similar crimes was interesting, showing an interesting depth in the characters without r Where Monsters Dwell is the first in a series about Norwegian detective, Odd Singsaker. In this one, he works closely with American detectives after two cases with shocking similarities occur across the ocean at nearly the same time. Where Monsters Dwell was an interesting mix of perspectives, dealing with the crime in Norway as well as the crime in Virginia. The balance between how two sets of police handle similar crimes was interesting, showing an interesting depth in the characters without really needing to introduce too many of them. The differences were evident through the police procedural aspect of the book. There was another interesting aspect to Where Monsters Dwell, dealing with chapter breaks that consisted of historical flashbacks. While these were interesting, they took me some time to get used to. They seemed so far removed from the story that I didn't fully understand their importance, so I found them slow to start, almost to the point where I wanted to skip those sections. Once the importance started to pull together though, they were really fascinating, and added a new dynamic to the story. One thing I didn't love about this one was how far fetched I found parts of it. Granted, lots of crime novels get a little bit unrealistic. But this one really felt like it was reaching, especially the end of it. Things tied together in nice little bows, but it didn't feel plausible, it felt like it was just written that way to cover all the bases. Which made the reveal of whodunnit seem a bit disappointing; it felt like it came out of nowhere. Despite feeling a bit of disappointment about the ending and how it pulled together, this was quite a fun read. Knowing that the hisorical breaks are slow but important would have been nice before starting it, but they did grow on me. Ultimately, I'm looking forward to reading more in this series, but it won't be one I run out for. This is a good book that you should get from the library.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Missy (myweereads)

    “Welcome to my cabinet of curiosities” Where Evil Lies by Jørgen Brekke is a disturbing story about murders which occurred in The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia and Trondheim Norway. These bare a striking resemblance which pose a lot of questions. Both murders are being investigated and have a book bound in human skin in common. This was sent to me by the loves @munster_books 🖤 The premise alone had me interested. I love Edgar Allan Poe so to have a serial killer operating at his museum and in “Welcome to my cabinet of curiosities” Where Evil Lies by Jørgen Brekke is a disturbing story about murders which occurred in The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia and Trondheim Norway. These bare a striking resemblance which pose a lot of questions. Both murders are being investigated and have a book bound in human skin in common. This was sent to me by the loves @munster_books 🖤 The premise alone had me interested. I love Edgar Allan Poe so to have a serial killer operating at his museum and in Norway had me intrigued. What binds these murders (every pun intended) is a book called The Book Of John. This is a journal kept by a serial killer during 1529, a book that is bound in human skin. The timelines jump between the two murder locations as well as the past. There is a steady build up to the paths crossing, the circumstance in which the detectives find themselves was clever. The author has definitely allowed the reader to stir a little in wait before all is revealed. The use of some factual information regarding specific serial killers added to the thrilling elements and gave depth to the story. Overall this was an interesting murder mystery. I enjoyed the take on the killers every move coming from a manuscript. The chase becomes one the reader cant help follow through.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barbara ★

    I liked the mystery perpetrated in two countries and the way everything tied together. Though this was really a book with three separate plots converging not just two. I found the jumping between time - 1528 to 2010 and back again - to be rather distracting. Though I did enjoy seeing things from the boys perspective back in 1528. The only thing that really annoyed me was the gratuitous sex of which there was no rational explanation for. To me it was simply for shock value and a waste of time and I liked the mystery perpetrated in two countries and the way everything tied together. Though this was really a book with three separate plots converging not just two. I found the jumping between time - 1528 to 2010 and back again - to be rather distracting. Though I did enjoy seeing things from the boys perspective back in 1528. The only thing that really annoyed me was the gratuitous sex of which there was no rational explanation for. To me it was simply for shock value and a waste of time and space to this reader. It also caused me to greatly dislike the female in question.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Suspenseful......good read!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Strange, but an interesting mystery.

  26. 5 out of 5

    *Andrejcick*

    My favorite part of this book is the last chapter, which makes you reevaluate everything you just read. Great characters and story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Absolutely riveting. With two gruesome murders, I thought it would be too gory, but I was so caught up in the mystery that the method of killing was secondary for me. The ending was complex and exciting; the final entry with the 16th century monk was excellent. DeAnne -- thanks for the recommendation.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    If you are a fan of Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, etc.), you will love this book. The novel is about two murders that take place almost simultaneously, one in Richmond, Virginia and the other in Trondheim, Norway. Both victims are involved in library work and have been been studying The Book of Johannes from the 1500's. Interestingly, Brekke's novel is written with two narratives; one is from the contemporary era and the other is from the 1500's. Both victims have been flayed an If you are a fan of Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, etc.), you will love this book. The novel is about two murders that take place almost simultaneously, one in Richmond, Virginia and the other in Trondheim, Norway. Both victims are involved in library work and have been been studying The Book of Johannes from the 1500's. Interestingly, Brekke's novel is written with two narratives; one is from the contemporary era and the other is from the 1500's. Both victims have been flayed and decapitated. It doesn't take long for the police to realize that there is a connection between the two murders despite the geographical distance. Is the murderer a serial killer or is there another reason for the killings? The homicide detective in Virginia is Felicia Stone, a woman fairly new to this position. She is carrying some demons from her past and has a heavy heart. The detective in Trondheim is Odd Singsaker who just had a brain tumor removed and is now back at his job. He is recently divorced and has a grown son who he rarely sees because of the time constraints of his work. The murder in The United States takes place at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum which is connected to a library at the University of Richmond. The Trondheim, Norway murder takes place at a famous library. Both victims are librarians. Felicia Stone travels to Norway and she and Odd work together to try and solve this case. They realize that one of the connections to the murders is old books. The characterizations are very good and the reader gets to know Felicia and Odd very well. As they work together and gather clues, they are attracted to a suspect named Jon Vatten, a man whose wife and son disappeared five years ago. He was never charged with a crime because he had an alibi. He had a promising career as a university professor that was destroyed by the publicity surrounding the case. He now works at the Trondheim library as a security guard. In his free time, he likes to go there and read. Odd thinks there is a chance that Jon is the murderer because he was the last person to see the Trondheim victim alive. The narratives from the 1500's are fascinating. They revolve around a boy who is given to a beard cutter by his mother. Beard cutters are like barbers, only they also do dissections and autopsies. They own many sharp knives and scalpels. The boy grows up to become a Lutheran priest who writes the Book of Johannes and owns the set of knives that once belonged to the beard cutter. The book of Johannes is written on parchment which was a very common practice in those days. The book that was found in the Richmond library after the murder was also on parchment and is a palimpsest, meaning that it has been written on more than once. What is the connection of this ancient book to the current crimes? Who was this priest Johannes and what is his part in what is now taking place? As stated in the novel, "There are five hundred years between the cases. But I'm thinking that we shouldn't view this type of sadistic murder as a purely modern phenomenon. Europe in the fifteen hundreds was a much more violent place. There were vicious, wacko criminals back then, too." The novel is a great page-turner and I found it hard to put down. There are a multitude of characters, all fully developed and fitting into the novel carefully. If you are squeamish or do not like your mysteries hard boiled, I don't recommend you read this. However, if you are a fan of really dark and well-written mystery/thrillers, this is the book for you. I also commend the translator, Steven T. Murray, for his flawless and flowing narrative.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Efrahim Bond seemed an unlikely candidate for murder and yet for one killer he's a prime target. His body is found skinned and on display in the garden at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Meanwhile, across the globe another flayed body is found in a locked vault at the Gunnerus Library in Trondheim, Norway. In each case the police involved believe they're dealing with an isolated crime, so it comes as a surprise when Richmond detective Felicia Stone finds a reference to the Gunn Efrahim Bond seemed an unlikely candidate for murder and yet for one killer he's a prime target. His body is found skinned and on display in the garden at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Meanwhile, across the globe another flayed body is found in a locked vault at the Gunnerus Library in Trondheim, Norway. In each case the police involved believe they're dealing with an isolated crime, so it comes as a surprise when Richmond detective Felicia Stone finds a reference to the Gunnerus Library in her case. One quick phone call to Trondheim officer Odd Singsaker confirms the striking similarity in the murders. The only link they can find adds more confusion to the respective murders: a sixteenth-century book bound in human skin and believed to be the diary of a serial killer. Brekke's debut is a pretty gruesome tale with more than a few twists. It begins with a flashback to a mendicant monk who turns out to be the author of the manuscript that links the two cases. His story includes some really fantastic details on the history of early anatomy (a bit fudged for the purpose of the story but the author's afterword does detail the truth behind the fiction, so to speak). Poe enthusiasts will likely jump at the Poe Museum setting, but as the author also points out in his afterword, Poe himself is pretty inconsequential to the actual plot. It is a nice detail that adds more interest to the story even though it doesn't play heavily on the plot itself - adds more atmosphere in a way. One wonders, in finishing, if we'll see more of these characters. Brekke pays close attention to building up backstories for more than a few of the people in this tale to the point that a series could be feasible. The book does stand completely on its own, however, but would be a nice set up for a new Norwegian crime series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Rudge

    A compelling debut from Jorgen Brekke. Since I lived in Richmond, this book caught my eye and I'm sure glad it did. How delicious is it to have a macabre murder in the Edgar Allen Poe Museum? Or, at least for me, a similar murder in a library? This book actually has three main characters, two of which are modern day detectives and the third a sixteenth century priest who might be a serial murderer. The sixteenth century character is a man who is telling his life story throughout this book. It be A compelling debut from Jorgen Brekke. Since I lived in Richmond, this book caught my eye and I'm sure glad it did. How delicious is it to have a macabre murder in the Edgar Allen Poe Museum? Or, at least for me, a similar murder in a library? This book actually has three main characters, two of which are modern day detectives and the third a sixteenth century priest who might be a serial murderer. The sixteenth century character is a man who is telling his life story throughout this book. It becomes a novel of his life that serves as the connection that weaves all three characters lives together. Felicia Stone is the Richmond police detective called to the scene of a gruesome murder in the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. There she finds the flayed and beheaded body of the museum director. Half a world away, Odd Singsaker, a Norwegian police inspector is called to a local library where he finds a librarian flayed and beheaded. While both Stone and Singsaker search local, state and national databases they can find no other similar crimes. Only through a stroke of luck does Stone find a connection. Stone is soon in Norway where she and Singsaker begin the search for both the killer and the sixteenth century novel. Billed as a mystery, this book is equal parts thriller and not for the faint of heart. The modern day characters are likeable and Brekke provides great background stories to support their frailties. A docked the book a star because of the odd pacing, the flashbacks to the sixteenth century destroy some of the books rhythm, and because his knowledge of Richmond geography and street layouts is a little off. A highly-recommended debut and a book that you will want to leave the light on for awhile aftr you finish.

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