Sander Jakobsen is the pseudonym for Danish writing duo Dagmar Winther and Kenneth Degnbol. This is their debut novel and is also translated by them. If you like Nordic Noir, you will enjoy this book.
The Preacher is written in three parts and begins with a prologue, which seems to be irrelevant at the time of reading. Thorkild Christiansen waits outside East Jutland State Prison, Demark. His wife’s murderer is to be released. They go to a coffee shop and have ineffectual conversation.
Part one begins with the murder of Karen Christiansen, found shot and dumped in a river. Her husband, Thorkild, is the vicar of a village called Roslinge. It emerges that he knew hardly anything about his wife. The same goes for their children and the people of the village. How did she spend her days?
Detective Thea Krogh is determined to find out but struggles to discover anything significant. Thorkild also wants answers. He begins a journey of detection and self-discovery.
Part two: A second woman is murdered. There appears to be nothing to link the two dead women. But is there? Sanne Andersen was also shot, and her brother Frank comes to realise he didn’t know his reclusive sister as well as he thought. Aware of the parallels of each other’s situations, the two men, an unlikely pair, team up, their investigations eventually coinciding with those of the police.
Part Three: The pace quickens, a little. The mystery is solved, the killer found but some loose ends made it an unsatisfactory ending for me.
We are treated to the minutiae of the characters thoughts, lives and relationships. I’m afraid that I couldn’t empathise with any of them. Their actions were odd at times and mostly unexplained. I couldn’t get a real sense of place and the plot became obvious. Saying that, the novel is well plotted and structured, keeping the reader plodding along with the story. Scandinavian Noir or Nordic Noir is dark and morally complex. There is little or no action, just an emphasis on the monotony of investigation, cold, dark, bleak settings, life is hard, the protagonists flawed. If you are a fan, you will love this book.