Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
Axel Glenne is a doctor. Successful and popular, with a pretty wife and three children, he is the son of a Norwegian war hero and has standing in the community.
But the picture isn’t as perfect as he would wish – at least, not in his own eyes. Because he’s haunted by a shadow in his background that simply won’t go away: that of a twin brother he hasn’t seen in many years, a brother who hated him. And pretty soon the picture of his perfect life is looking a bit dubious to the police, too.
The first immediate crack in the image is when he takes on a young trainee doctor. The attraction between the two professionals is almost immediate, and he begins an affair that he knows is insane but can’t resist.
The second is the discovery of a dead woman known to him, who appears to have been killed by a bear. This is quickly confirmed when DCI Viken, who is leading the investigation, brings in a colleague, Sgt Arve Norbakk, who is a seasoned hunter and recognises the signs. Although he feels a sense of doubt, Viken goes along with the explanation, while following his nose for other possibilities.
Glenne’s world and Viken’s are soon drawn closer together on the discovery of another body, also with severe claw marks, and the realisation that there is a connection between the two victims: Dr Axel Glenne. To Viken, who claims never to have met a doctor he could trust, it’s a connection worth considering.
Meanwhile, Glenne is feeling increasing anxiety stemming partly from his infidelity, but also the fact that he can’t rid himself of the unwelcoming feeling that his brother, Brede, is somewhere nearby. This is reinforced by a colleague who claims to have seen someone like him – although Glenne has never revealed to anyone the existence of Brede.
Slow to start, the story eventually begins to gather pace along with the police investigation and with Glenne’s feeling of stress.
I have to confess I found the reading very hard work – and not simply because of the sombre tone of the book. Instead of using speech marks, the publishers appear to have abandoned that convention, settling for a simple dash at the beginning of each piece of dialogue. It works well enough with a simple statement, but for this simple soul, leads to confusion where dialogue trips into narrative or reflection. I found myself having to read back over sentences which made the whole thing heavy going than it needed to be.
It’s a good story, however, and worth a read.
Translation by Robert Ferguson