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A Death in Denmark by Amulya Malladi | Book Review

Scandinavian countries are known as some of the happiest countries in the world. But these far flung, cold, countries are also known for their dark thrillers and crime fiction that is enjoyed world wide by readers. One of the well known examples is the millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) by Stieg Larsson.

We enjoy detective fiction here at Thinkerviews, and during one of our recent browsing session, we picked up a book called A Death in Denmark by author Amulya Malladi.

Book Title : A Death in Denmark
Gabriel Præst Novel - 1
Author :
Published by : William Morrow Paperbacks ( 28 March 2023)
# of Pages : 324 (Paperback) 333; 6198 KB (Kindle EBook) 585 Minutes (Audiobook)
# of Chapters : 42
Purchase Link(s) :

The combination was appealing – a Nordic thriller by an author of Indian origin, so we added this book to our reading list and here are our views on this book on behalf of Team Thinkerviews.

Book Cover:

Let us take a look at the cover page of this book.

A Death in Denmark by Amulya Malladi | Book Cover

A Death in Denmark by Amulya Malladi | Book Cover

The cover page of this book is following the modern approach of designing really eye-catching colors. The shades of blue, pink, red and black makes the cover page really attractive. The illustration of a man wearing hat in the left adds the element of mystery to the cover page. The buildings and their reflections gives hint about the canvas of events in this thriller. The fonts used for the title completely suits the genre of the book.

Overall, I found the cover page really faithful to the book and attractive as well.

Storyline:

Gabriel Praest is playing blues at Mojo in Copenhagen, when a long estranged lover walks in. Leila Abadi Knudsen is a Danish lawyer of Iranion heritage and is picking up a high profile, controversial case, which she wants Gabriel to  investigate. Gabriel Praest may play jazz and blues on some nights, but this ex-cop works as a private investigator during day time.

The case is that of Yousef Ahmed. An Iraqui immigrant, Yousef’s family had made an attempt at building a life in Copenhagen. His Son Raheem was working as a translator for the Danish armed forces, but when the war was over, Raheem was denied an asylum and was deported to Iaaq. Here, he was tortured and executed by ISIS, and a video of this was released on internet.

In Denmark, Sanne Melgaard became the face of the decision making group that had deported Raheem. So when she was found brutally murdered within days of Raheem’s death and Yousef Ahmed was proven to have paid her a visit, Yousef was convicted as the murderer. But, Leila believes he is innocent.

A Death in Denmark by Amulya Malladi | Book Cover

A Death in Denmark by Amulya Malladi | Book Cover

And so it is that five years after the murder, Gabriel Praest starts investigating the matter. We get to know Gabriel, his family including an ex Stine and daughter Sophie, his friends Clara Silberg and Eymen, police chief Tommy, journalist Nico, ex-criminal Bor and multiple other characters that make up the fabric of Copenhagen as Gabriel’s life moves through its daily patterns.

The case seems to have opened a Pandora’s box. Although Gabriel appears to be gathering random clues, he starts getting attacked and death threats are made to his family. The most viable thread of his investigation seems to point to the world war II days, when Denmark was occupied by Nazis.

Were there crimes committed during those days, that might have impact on the political royalty of the Denmark of today? Will Gabriel survive and find justice for Yousef?

Views and Reviews:

First published in 2023, this book introduces us to a new detective and his city. Gabriel Praest is an ex-policeman turned PI, who dresses with care, enjoys food and alcohol, loves his family and friends, and has penchant for getting into trouble. As his friends know firsthand, everything he touches, seems to turn into a hornet’s nest.

He has appearance of an old-school, well dressed gentleman, with social connections spanning through Copenhagen’s wealthiest to the shadowy world of ex-criminals.

All in all, he makes an intriguing character. And as he likes to quote Kierkgaard, we do have some great one-liners running through the book:

Trouble is the common denominator of the living. It is the great equalizer.

The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

And then there is Copenhagen. As every meeting, every scene for Gabriel takes place in this city, the author brings it alive, takes us to visit its restaurants and bars, introduces us to its food and drinks, and the jazz and blues. Being so far up North, the weather in Denmark can also turn out more gloomy days then sunshine. As the author describes:

We had come up with an equation for what constituted a decent, good, and very good day. A decent day was a day when it didn’t rain or snow. A good day was when it didn’t rain or snow and there was no wind. A very good day was when it didn’t rain or snow, it wasn’t windy, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining. This had nothing to do with the temperature.

A Death in Denmark by Amulya Malladi | Book Cover

A Death in Denmark by Amulya Malladi | Book Cover

But at the core of the book is also the conflicted nature of the country. What does it mean to be Danish? There are groups promoting Denmark for the Danish, there are groups advocating diversity and inclusion, allowing immigrants to live in this country and there are political fractions representing all these fractions and more. The central case of Yousef brings out the conflict with all its real life ugliness when the issue does not remain a political debate but costs lives of real people:

Every time they changed the rules of immigration to make it harder, the death threats came from immigrant groups. When she did something even mildly to support the immigrants, the white supremacists sent death threats.

For any detective to be successful, they will need a network of informants, contacts in and out of law enforcement, and the author has created that world for her detective here. He also has just enough of the doggedness to pursue a thread in spite of being mortally afraid and also enough recklessness to sometimes make enemies where he doesn’t need to. At any rate, he likes to see the things through, in spite of knowing what he will find may not be convenient:

Everything was relevant; the pieces of a puzzle that looked as if in discord with the others sometimes were exactly the pieces you needed to see the final picture.

The truth is a snare: you cannot get it without being caught yourself; you cannot get the truth by catching it yourself but only by it catching you.

Summary:

A new detective adventure, as Gabriel Praest comes to life and takes us on a thrilling journey through Copenhagen of today and occupied Denmark of the world war II…

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 7.5 stars out of 10.

Quick Purchase Links:

Over To You:

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