Reviews for Hanging

Booklist Reviews 2013 May #1
Two young children arrive at school early and discover five nude male bodies hanging in the gymnasium. Homicide Detective Konrad Simonsen and his team know instantly that the mutilated corpses will be difficult to identify. So begins what appears to be a Danish procedural, but the Hammers, a brother-and-sister writing team, have more in mind. The murderers are introduced in surreal, nightmarish passages that suggest they are victims of child sexual abuse. As police painstakingly identify the corpses, the murderers launch a media campaign that goes viral, assailing Denmark for its laxity toward pedophiles--like the murdered men. Worldwide reaction to the campaign unnerves the government, and pressure increases on the already overwhelmed Simonsen. The Hanging offers insights into Danish policing and the country's sociocultural foment. It is also filled with quirky characters whose quirks are meticulously described but not always germane to the plot. But the Hammers have struck a chord with European readers, and The Hanging is seen as Denmark's answer to successful Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic crime fiction. U.S. crime lovers will likely want to stick a pin in Denmark on their crime-fiction maps. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #2
Something new is rotten in the state of Denmark in this debut from a sister-and-brother team: five middle-aged men drugged, stripped, mutilated and hanged in a geometrically precise formation. DI Konrad Simonsen, head of Copenhagen's Homicide Division, is on vacation, but the holiday he's taking with Anna Mia, the 19-year-old daughter he neglected for many years, ends abruptly with the news of a grisly discovery. Someone has decorated the gym of the Langbæk School in Bagsværd with five corpses dangling from the ceiling. The hands of the victims have been removed and their faces disfigured with a chain saw, presumably to delay their identification. Without knowing who they are, Simonsen obviously has little to go on in solving their murders, and it's not surprising that his suspicion quickly falls close to home, on Per Clausen, the school's janitor. Clausen has almost enough history to make up for the blank slates of the victims. He was a brilliant student and a successful physicist until the drowning of his daughter Helene, 17, marked a reversal of his fortunes. Soon after the police question him and receive nothing but evasive responses, he vanishes. Meanwhile, Simonsen is being harassed by pesky reporter Anni Staal; local citizens, when they get wind of the likely motive for the murders, are by no means eager to help catch the killers; and members of the Homicide Squad have their own obligatory problems, especially married gambler Arne Pedersen, who's begun an affair with the squad's newest member, Pauline Berg. The case would seem hopeless if the authors didn't keep cutting away to close-ups of the conspirators responsible for the five victims' deaths: advertising executive Erik Mørk, farmer Stig Åge Thorsen, nurse Helle Smidt Jørgenson and a wraithlike killer who prefers to be called the Climber. Middling for the endless recent crop of Scandinavian procedurals apparently designed to inhibit tourism and make you glad you're staying in the temperate zone. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 June #1

Two children who unfortunately arrive a little too early to school discover the naked and dismembered bodies of five men hanging from a podium in the elementary school gymnasium. Called back from his seaside vacation, DI Konrad Simonsen quickly becomes embroiled in a nightmarish investigation in which clues are difficult to decipher, leads suddenly disappear and informants are later found dead, and horrific tales of child sexual abuse begin snowballing through the Danish press and international blogosphere. Were the dead men pedophiles? Were they killed at the hands of vigilantes? Will more men soon be found murdered? As Simonsen and his investigative squad attempt to uncover the truth, the Danish public becomes increasingly and loudly in favor of the tactics employed by the shadowy team of vigilantes, believing the dead--presumed guilty--to be better off that way. VERDICT This debut thriller by two Danish siblings unfolds in chapters that flit back and forth across the perspectives of the detectives and the vigilantes: one chapter is narrated by Simonsen, another by the leader of the killers, another by a reporter, etc. This method, while illuminating detail and motive, adds confusion to the overly long tale, providing constant description rather than clarity. Further, in its central theme of violence against children and societal response to it, this novel attempts to instill an ethical depth that it ultimately cannot deliver. Still, some fans of Scandinavian crime fiction may be interested. [Previewed in Kristi Chadwick's "Following the Digital Clues: Mystery Genre Spotlight," LJ 4/15/13.]--Jennifer Rogers, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Coll. Lib., Richmond, VA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 April #2

The Hammers, a sister and brother writing team, make their U.S. debut with this outstanding crime thriller, which introduces Danish Det. Insp. Konrad Simonsen. Early one morning in Bagsvaerd, a Copenhagen suburb, a gruesome scene awaits the eyes of two young children, a brother and a sister, in their school gym--the naked corpses of five men hanging from the ceiling, each suspended by a single rope, each with his face mutilated. When word leaks out that the dead men were all child molesters, public opinion shifts in favor of the killer, assumed to have taken revenge on behalf of the victims of abuse. The truth is less straightforward, and the inquiry is complicated by the apparent suicide of a key witness, the school janitor, who told lie after lie in his statements to the police. Everything works in this dark Scandinavian procedural--the intelligent and complex plot, the fallible lead, and the atmospheric prose. Agent: Sofie Voller, Gyldendal (Denmark). (June)

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