Thanks to Harper Books for the free advanced copies in exchange for our honest reviews
THE CHESTNUT MAN – Soren Sveistrup (Releasing September 3rd, 2019)
The heart-pounding debut from the creator of the hit Scandinavian television show The Killing.
If you find one, he’s already found you.
A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.
His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.
Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.
A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?
To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.
Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.
And no one is safe.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars
Well this was a bit of a heavy read, in more ways than one. I do love a good story that has some gore and “hard to read” spots – but they’re not really that hard to read for me. The crazier and more twisted, the better in my opinion. Sveistrup certainly gives us some visually disturbing scenes.
The beginning opens with quite the bang and I was instantly hooked. But then, if I’m being completely honest, my attention quickly waned. I found myself putting it down and reading something else at times. But in about 200 pages, it started to pick up. The short chapters certainly help to keep the pages turning once you get to this point. At a 500+ page book, it’s still fairly early on so doesn’t take too much away.
This book is heavy on the procedural aspect and characterization. I think I wanted just a little more from The Chestnut Man villain as a whole. More twisty, gory, look through your fingers moments please! However, the writing is well done and I did not see the reveal coming. As long as it took me to get into this read, the ending felt a little rushed. I don’t know if it needed all 500+ pages to get across the same story but that’s just my preference.
Would I read more by this author? Absolutely. Would I recommend this read? Also absolutely. Especially to those who really love the twisted mixed in with some heavy procedural action.
Dennis’ Thoughts: 2/5 stars
Although I did not really enjoy Søren Sveistrup’s upcoming crime fiction novel, The Chestnut Man , I will give accolades to the author’s writing. This review will not speak towards Sveistrup’s talent or craft, but the story itself. I don’t like giving negative reviews, so this one will be shorter than usual, and will just touch on the areas I was most frustrated with, rather than nitpick every little thing about the story. I did not know that the author is the creator of the television series The Killing, but it makes sense that this debut novel would follow a similar format. The books reads as a slow burn mystery that I could see working out better for a television series.
Copenhagen detectives are dealing with a major crisis—there’s someone going around the city murdering innocent people in brutal, graphic killings. Detectives cannot find a motive to these attacks, nor can they find any similarities between them. That is, until they notice little dolls nearby the victims’s bodies that appear to be intentional. They are two chestnuts formed together to resemble a body. These chestnut dolls are the only similarities between the victims, but police still have no rationale on finding this serial killer. They must think outside the box and dive deeper into the world of crime to unmask this criminal.
The Chestnut Man starts off fast-paced and very intense. After reading the prologue, and some of the initial chapters of the book, I was ready to compare this book as a possible Lars Kepler type of Nordic Noir, but as I kept reading, it just got to the point of “meh” for me. As I kept reading, I was hoping for something to happen, but it just kept going at the same glacially slow pace. I was bored and ready to give up. Sadly, I was able to figure out the mystery behind this story relatively early on, and when I wasn’t proven wrong, it was very disappointing. The characters in The Chestnut Man are very one dimensional, and I really didn’t have a strong opinion about any of them. I didn’t love, hate, or care about any of them, which made for a lackluster read for me. I believe that Søren Sveistrup will have a great future as a writer, but The Chestnut Man just wasn’t for me.
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
I’ll admit, the cover had me right away! Something creepy and eerie about it and then I read the synopsis and I couldn’t wait to start. This one I did as a buddy read with Chandra (Where the Reader Grows) and Dennis (Scared Straight Reads). This one is just at 500 pages, and a mammoth in comparison to most crime fiction novels these days. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with the pacing of this book and how quickly I went through this.
This takes place over the course of an investigation of some gruesome murders. With Detectives Thulin and Hess we are trying to track down the serial killer that has been dubbed The Chestnut Man, because of the Chestnut dolls that are left at the crime scenes. When evidence is found at the crime scenes that shouldn’t be there, the detectives can’t rule out a connection to a currently closed case. Are these connected to a disappearance almost a year earlier?
This one is heavier in the procedural area of crime fiction. One thing that most readers anticipate with the Nordic Noir thriller genre. The chapters are short and we go between stories with the different characters. How are they all connected? Will they be able to stop the Chestnut Man before he kills again? I think Sveistrup did a great job weaving these characters together and tying in the first chapter perfectly (the whole story is present day, while chapter one is a flashback to 1989). I did not see that ending coming, at all. I thought I had it figured out, but the author threw that curve ball!
Overall, if you like the more procedural crime fiction novels, then this will be perfect for your fall TBR. If you’re wanting a quicker serial killer thriller, then this might fall short for you. I enjoyed this one and can’t wait to see what people will say about it.