Effrahim Bond, curator of the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia was contemplating how his recent discovery could potentially turn his miserable life around when he is brutally tortured and murdered. Due to her specialized training in serial killers, homicide detective Felicia Stone begins working the case because surely, anyone who flays their victims alive must be seriously deranged. During the course of her investigation, Felicia discovers a tenuous connection between Virginia and abroad just before learning of a similar murder in a library in Trondheim, Norway.
A year after brain surgery he wasn’t expected to survive, Trondheim detective Odd Singsaker’s first day back at work lands him on a gruesome murder within the book vault of the historical Gunnerus Library. When Felicia calls Odd from the United States, it is clear the same person committed both murders. Felicia flies to Trondheim and together with Odd, sets out to bring a sick killer to justice. Research quickly reveals a connection to The Book of Johannes written on human skin in the 1500’s. The book was written by a priest known as Johannes who acquired a special set of knives from a man called the beard cutter. The question that needs to be answered is what connection could there be between an ancient text and present day murders and can the detectives figure it out before they become the next victims.
Brekke does an excellent job of blending three separate story lines together to create a taut mystery that rapidly accelerates after a slow, rather disjointed start. Felicia and Odd both carry their own inner demons, a part of some strong character development. There are places where the dialog feels a bit forced and sometimes too much background information slows down the pace but overall, Brekke shows enough promise to make it worth checking out his next work.
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