Written by Sara Blaedel – Last autumn Danish crime writer Sara Blaedel made her English language debut with the fourth book in her Louise Rick series, Call Me Princess. In this novel, we met Louise and her homicide investigation team, Unit A. They were on the hunt for a serial killer who selected his victims from the pages of several internet dating websites. Now Louise is back and she finds herself on temporary reassignment to the Unit One Mobile Task Force.
When a fisherman discovers the body of a young immigrant girl floating in a cove just north of the Danish town of Holbæk, the mobile task force is called in to lead the case, supported by the local police. With no obvious signs of violence or any clues to her identity, the team realise that solving this case may not be all that straightforward. Their first breakthrough comes sooner than they expect when a teenage girl – Dicta Møller – turns up at the police station claiming she may know the identity of the victim, but a positive ID brings with it a whole set of new problems. The family of the victim, Samra al-Abd, is initially reluctant to co-operate with the investigation, which only fuels speculation within the team that the girl may have been the victim of an honour killing.
With the help of Samra’s friends, Louise and new partner Mik Rasmussen start to build up a picture of the girl’s life. She appears to have lived in a controlled environment, with a father who wasn’t averse to the odd spot of violence and a brother who trails after his sister when she’s away from the family. With Samra’s male relatives quickly falling under suspicion for her killing, it’s starting to look like an open and shut case, until Dicta Møller’s battered body is found dumped in a car park, seemingly blowing that line of enquiry out of the water. Louise knows both girls’ deaths are linked but she’s struggling with the why?
The central theme is violence against women, but here Blaedel chooses to focus on the issue of honour killings, and she does so in an intelligent and sensitive manner. It’s a subject she discusses as the book opens, but she’s keen to highlight the fact that first impressions are not always what they seem leaving that little hint of doubt in your mind. Is Samra al-Abd really the victim of an honour killing?
If you enjoyed Call Me Princess, or happen to be a fan of Camilla Lackberg’s books, then you certainly won’t be disappointed by Only One Life. Strong characterisation and a willingness to tackle delicate issues are this book’s greatest strengths. This Nordic Noir addict is fast becoming a fan of Ms Blædel, and wondering how long we’ll have to wait until the next instalment in the Louise Rick casebook.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars