Unrest by Jesper Stein
|Unrest by Jesper Stein|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: The First in the Axel Steen series, Unrest is a brilliantly dark dose of scandi noir fiction – and one that combines a frighteningly thrilling plot with a closer look into the seamy underbelly of beautiful Copenhagen.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 436||Date: July 2018|
|Publisher: Mirror Books|
|External links: Author's website|
DCI Steen is assigned a puzzling case – the tortured body of a man found in a cemetery in Copenhagen but left there during a riot – a riot that had the area swarming in police. How could anyone have been murdered and left in the open with so many police on site? Unless the killer is one of them… As the case becomes more and more complicated, it soon begins to take a toll on Steen's already troubled personal life. He won't stop until the killer is caught, whatever the consequences. But the consequences may turn out to be greater than expected – especially for Axel himself…
Scandinavian noir has become a huge thing over here in the last decade – Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson all dark, realist writers that thrill the reader with crimes and murders, yet also educate them as to the true picture of what living in the North could be like – and opening the eyes of those who have been sold on the snuggly concept of Hygge and the constantly brilliant knitwear of Sarah Lund.
The latest in this wave to hit our shores, is the Axel Steen series – published six years ago in author Stein's native Denmark, but here translated into English for the first time. Stein takes a close look at the dark underbelly of Copenhagen, and, for those like me who fell in love with the city after gorging on Borgen box-sets, it's a frightening and unsettling look at a community in trouble.
Whilst Detective Steen has many of the staples one would come to expect from the lead in a crime thriller (insomnia, troubled backstory, estranged wife etc), they do go towards making him hugely compelling – and his determination and persistence to solve the crime at the heart of this story makes him a character who's always easy to root for – especially given quite how dark things get as the plot moves along.
Stein keeps the thriller at the centre of his story, but his angle allows the reader to explore a dark and turbulent side of Copenhagen that's described in what seems a balanced and fair way – a large dose of social commentary allowing Stein to explore topics such as police brutality and civil unrest with a skilful touch. So well explored are these topics, that this isn't always the easiest of books to read – but I appreciated Stein's honesty and how eager he seems to explore every aspect of both the community he writes about, and the characters he has created – every single one of which is portrayed with personality, flaws, and well-thought-out motivations.
A great addition to the shelves of the Scandi Noir thriller, Stein is a talented author who grants readers an unflinchingly dark look at the underbelly of modern day Copenhagen. Combined with a lead who, for all his flaws, is compelling and likeable, it seems to me that Stein's books will appeal to a great number of readers – and I for one look forward to reading more about DCI Steen in the future.
Many thanks to the publishers for the copy, and for further reading I recommend Dark Pines by Will Dean – Swedish Noir with a unique lead character.
You can read more book reviews or buy Unrest by Jesper Stein at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Unrest by Jesper Stein at Amazon.com.
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