Book Review: Eighteen Below by Stefan Ahnhem
A Nordic noir crime thriller, if you loved The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you’re going to adore this dark, fiendishly clever book, the third in Ahnhem’s Fabian Risk series. A Swedish detective on the murder squad, Risk is a clever man dealing with trauma within his own family as well as holding it together on one of the toughest jobs in the world, all while covering for his slowly unravelling boss’s alcoholism.
Eighteen Below details two crimes, both equally brutal, in two different countries, Sweden and Denmark. In one, teenagers have taken ‘happy slapping’ (brutal attacks on the unsuspecting which are recorded on phones and uploaded to the internet) too far, murdering homeless victims to create snuff films. The other crime is much stranger; someone is stealing not just the identities but the very lives of their wealthy victims, aiming for a goal nobody can comprehend and leaving a trail of long-frozen bodies in their wake. Apparently unrelated, the two investigations slowly converge until at the final, shocking climax, they collide in Fabian Risk’s own home.
I couldn’t put this book down. There are quite a few characters in it, but they all have critical roles to play even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, apparent red herrings suddenly becoming important clues later in the book. I could absolutely see this playing out as a TV series - there’s too much complexity for a movie - and since Ahnhem is a screenwriter best known for working on adaptations of Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series, I really hope Ahnhem is selling the TV rights to this book too. It’ll make absolutely gripping viewing.
The book ends with not one but TWO incredible hooks for the next book in the series, but at no stage did I feel I was missing out on something in the story by not having read the earlier ones. I’d love to go back and read them, actually, but at $14.99 each in the US Kindle store (yes, really) I’m just going to have to put them on my wish list for now!
Five stars for a fantastic read, but pricing ebooks so high is frankly just rude. I’d strongly suggest to the publisher that they fix that or chance losing a lot of readers who don’t particularly like being conned out of their cold hard cash.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.