Thrilled to be taking part in the Blog Tour for A Presence of Absence today! Not only do I have a book review for you, but I also have an excerpt! Keep reading to find out what I thought about this one and read a bit for yourself!
A Presence of Absence, a collaborative effort by Sarah Surgey and Emma Vestrheim, is the first in a new series blending Scandinavian crime fiction and classic British police procedurals.
When the daughter of one of the wealthiest man in Odense, Denmark turns up dead, British detective, Simon, is on the case. New to Odense and grieving the loss of his wife, Simon must connect with washed-up local cop Jonas, to hunt one of the worst serial killers Odense has ever seen. Dark, brooding and intricate, this novel will have you thinking long after the last page has been read.
The novel’s setting is completely original moving back and forth between the vast Nordic scenery of Denmark and in England, readers are able to connect not only with Simon and Jonas, fighting their own personal demons that are complicating their current case, but also with Simon’s family as they work through their own grief.
In fact, the character development in this novel was my favourite part. Fully developed and thought out, each character brought something completely new to the plot. Past sins, individual sacrifices and personal demons collided until each character has reached their breaking point. This is not your everyday crime novel, family bonds are strong throughout and played a huge role throughout the narrative.
That epilogue? It had me reeling. I will be eagerly awaiting the next in the series.
I am predicting big things for this series; attention Nordic noir fans, a new series has arrived!
I rated it a 4/5 stars.
1981, near Faaborg, Denmark
The angel plucks a large handful of flowers, and they carry it with them up to God, where the flowers bloom more brightly than they ever did on earth.
— “The Angel”
The farm was eerily quiet. The animals were sleeping and recuperating from dealing with the harsh weather which the day had brought. The landscape surrounding the farm painted a very imposing background, and this only added to the desolate position it was perched in. Farms in Denmark were sparse but necessary to the country’s survival, or so it seemed. The isolated spot of this farm had only increased the distance between its inhabitants and the local town. Although they were known, they were not always accepted and this sadly sat well with them.
The barn door slamming open and shut in time with the wind was the only sign that something had been disturbed there. The more the door called for help, the more it became withered until eventually, it started to hang slightly off-centre.
The man inside the farmhouse had just been tending to a stockpot which held the evening’s dinner of stew, made two days before. It would be devoured again tonight, he was sure, through pure hunger rather than enjoyment. Hearing the barn door call its last and loudest scream, he hesitantly put on his boots and decided to head over to the barn to quieten it. With the rain slamming down on him from all angles as the wind picked up speed and direction, he felt like he was being pushed back, away from the barn. He called out suddenly, questioning who was there as it became apparent that the lock was hanging off the barn. Relieved that he had on instinct picked up his rifle as he left the cottage, he pulled it up closer to himself as he slowly made his way to the door.
In a flash the door threw itself open, as though to expose its visitor to what was inside. The man froze in position. The figure before him was still. Surrounded by the haystacks and wooden pallets which sent out a musty smell, the barn was a holding place for surplus requirements.
Heavy breaths were the only sound in this space now, but under the surface, there seemed to be silent cries and a heartbeat which was racing, trying to catch up with itself.
The man stumbled forwards and stood in front of it. Shaking uncontrollably, the man used his hands to feel the figure, following the outline of the face until he had memorised every inch. Not moving, the figure was open to this touch. It didn’t resist the kindness which was being shown, the gentle touch. The dangling figure let the man work through his fear and sadness for some time. Suddenly the man let out a shrieking cry which stirred some of the animals outside who had gathered to watch.
Cutting the figure down from where it was hanging, he pulled the body close to him and fell to the floor with it, making sure he protected it from the fall. Turning the body towards him, he once again slid his fingers down the face, this time closing the bright blue eyes that were looking at him, and tried to turn up the mouth so that it didn’t hint at the fear it had known moments before its passing. As the body lay lifeless in his arms he wiped at the tears which had stained the cheeks of the figure, then cut the rope from his neck.
Running his fingers along the old scars on the body’s wrists, the man was angered at himself for not seeing this before. A previous attempt had obviously been made to erase the hurt, but he had found this too hard.
Sitting in the barn throughout the night was comforting in a way. As the darkness erased the scene of death in front of him, for a few hours the man could sit in his own denial. Now the barn door only gave out a sadness: the shouting had gone. The man had found what he was supposed to find and the barn held this secret with dignity.
Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour!