Review: The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

Rating: ★★★★☆+

Synopsis

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.

Review

Thanks to HarperAudio and the author for an LC of The Chestnut Man in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this listening copy did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

If it isn’t obvious, based on my reading criteria, that requesting the audio for this one was a no-brainer, then you haven’t been following my blog closely enough. This debut, alongside North’s The Whisper Man, were two (2) titles I had high up on my TBR since their announcement as I have come to LOVE mystery thrillers over the past couple of years, thanks in part to CJ Tudor’s The Chalk Man and Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes.

The Chestnut Man is another must-add thriller alongside Michaelides’ The Silent Patient, North’s The Whisper Man, and Tudor’s The Hiding Place that cements 2019 as the ‘Year of the Thriller’. Bloody addicting, ferociously gripping, and knowingly relentless. This is exactly what I desire in a thriller and Sveistrup absolutely delivers.

Knowing Sveistrup was the creator of ‘The Killing’ and that this was his debut novel, I had a few (albeit tiny) reservations about jumping into this book with both feet. I have been let down enough times in the past be it a director, screenwriter, etc. and have come to wonder if it is just name alone that sells books and brings in rave reviews. Well, having finished The Chestnut Man, I can tell you that if you have the same reservations, throw those things in the trash and light them on fire. There is no need to hesitate going out and purchasing a copy of this novel for yourself.

First off, the opening chapter is breath-takingly terrifying and is an automatic “well I have to read chapter 2 now” guarantee. How can you not love when a thriller opens with brutal violence, murder, and an air of mystery? On top of that, the way the author begins introducing the cast of characters, giving us glimpses into their everyday lives on top of the reality they are set in, really feels like the setting of a TV drama. You can see where episodes end and others begin; cliffhangers leaving you wanting to flip to the next page late at night. Chapters are broken up between different characters, showing the overarching mystery from several POVs and even giving us eyes into the department and behind those of the suspects. It all works together so well.

This book sort of reminded me of the show Broadchurch with David Tenant and Olivia Colman (Anna Gunn replaced Colman on the US version called ‘Gracepoint’). Everyone is a suspect. Every object at a crime scene is a clue. It is almost impossible to figure out who the culprit is until the very end (unless you are super intuitive, which I am not). I loved the show, so that may have helped me love this book even more than others.

All in all, if you need another thriller in your life, this is an easy purchase. If you enjoyed any of the above referenced thrillers (The Silent Patient, The Whisper Man, or The Hiding Place), do yourself a favor and grab a copy of The Chestnut Man. Just don’t come crying to me if you scream the next time you walk by a kid’s craft table and see one of these little men staring back.

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