The Killing Forest
Sara Blaedel
Grand Central Publishing 2016
320 pages

The Killing Forest is the latest thriller from Denmark’s “Queen of Crime”, Sara Blaedel.  Although there are several novels in this popular Louise Rick series, only the last two are listed on Sara Blaedel’s English language website.  It appears that not all of her previous novels have been translated.

Having taken time to recover from a traumatic event, Louise Rick returns to the National Police to lead the Special Search Agency dealing with missing persons and criminal activity.  She is assigned to investigate the disappearance of Sune,  a 15 year-old boy believed to be in distress about the impending loss of his terminally ill mother. The Killing Forest (Louise Rick series Book 8) on Kindle

The strange thing is, nobody is searching for Sune.  His father is adamantly opposed to it, warning others to stay out of family business.

Louise’s friend Camilla Lind is a freelance journalist who spots the boy scavenging and hiding in the forest near slick blood-soaked ground.

The forest is full of secrets, mystery and danger, stemming from the beliefs and rituals of a breakaway sect of Asatro; practitioners an ancient pagan religion based on Norse gods and mythology.  The power of the silent Brotherhood over each other and the community is absolute, corrupt and chilling.

Nothing in The Killing Forest by Sara Blaedel is simple.  Content is at times violent and grizzly.  As the plot also digs into gang ties, Louise’s past and the tragic death of her boyfriend, its interconnected characters become more and more complex and convoluted.  There are implications of other related crimes, but details are not spelled out well.

Both women independently take on the role of investigator, however Louise couldn’t act further from a professional policewoman if she tried.  She often breaks protocol, behaves recklessly,  acts on emotion, and allows inter-office romance.  It may make for exciting reading, but as a the head of a police division, Louise is hardly credible.

There are far too many complex relationships and characters in Blaedel’s thriller.  Those that are inter-generational, especially ones who share(d) the same profession, are difficult to track.  Adding to the confusion is that they are often referred to using nicknames, such as “Big” ____, or by their occupation, e.g.  the butcher, or their relationships, like “the butcher’s son”.

Perhaps familiarity with previous book(s) would help.

There was a lesser but repetitive issue with the writing style which may or may not have been a product of translation.

Compared to the rest of The Killing Forest, the ending was too sweet and safe and wrapped up in a bow, and the follow-up after what happened to Louise’s son was less than believable.

This was not an enjoyable read for me.