Where Ravens Roost
reviewed by Barbara Saffer
Detective Inspector Kjeld Nygaard left his home in rural Varsund, Sweden over a decade ago. Kjeld’s beloved mother was dead and his father Stenar – with whom Kjeld always had a fractious relationship – made it clear he never wanted to see Kjeld again.
So Kjeld moved 800 kilometers south to Gothenburg and climbed the career ladder to become a police investigator with the Violent Crimes Division of the Gothenburg City Police.
Now, twelve years later, Kjeld receives a disturbing voicemail from his father. The elder Nygaard says he went to feed his pet ravens in the barn and saw someone being murdered. As it happens Kjeld is on temporary suspension for irregularities in his last case, so he makes the 10-hour-drive back to Varsund. Upon arrival, Kjeld finds his sister Sara taking care of their father Stenar. Sara insists that Stenar has Alzheimer’s, gets confused, and didn’t see any murder. This was confirmed by Police Inspector Gunnar Ek, who searched the barn and found nothing.
Kjeld went to police college with Gunnar, and considers him barely competent, So Kjeld searches the barn himself and finds a human tooth. Before long a body is discovered beneath the barn’s dirt floor.
Once the body is exposed, Gunnar wants to question Stenar. So Kjeld calls a lawyer named Erik Norberg, whose phone number is in Stenar’s old Rolodex. As it happens Norberg is also the attorney for Roland Lindqvist, the CEO of Norrmalm Industries – a mining company that provides most of the jobs in Varsund. Roland is in the process of selling Norrmalm, and doesn’t want anything to interfere with the deal.
Kjeld fears Gunnar might arrest his father for murder, so he decides to look for the killer himself. Kjeld is assisted by his police partner Esme Jansson, who drives up from Gothenburg to help. As Kjeld investigates, he learns secrets that have been hidden for decades. Kjeld also discovers that Norrmalm may have been illegally mining on Stenar’s land, which – if exposed – would create trouble for the company. It seems that Kjeld’s probe disturbs someone, because the detective is attacked by a knife-wielding assailant.
As Kjeld gets close to exposing the truth and uncovering the killer, the story threads come together in surprising ways.
The novel has an interesting array of characters, many of whom have their own concerns. For example, Kjeld has a short temper, chain smokes, and rarely gets to see his 7-year-old daughter Tove, who lives with Kjeld’s ex-husband; Detective Sergeant Esme Jansson is frustrated by Kjeld taking off and leaving her to deal with the fallout from their last case; Kjeld’s sister Sara is overwhelmed with the responsibilities of looking after her sick father as well as taking care of her own home, two children, and semi-employed husband; Police Inspector Gunnar Ek is worried about an event in his past; Attorney Erik Norberg knows things that weigh on his conscience; and CEO Roland Lindqvist’s adult children are lazy spoiled spendthrifts.
This first book in the Kjeld Nygaard series is an excellent debut novel for Scandi-noir author Karin Nordin.
Thanks to Netgalley, Karin Nordin, and HQ Digital Publishers for a copy of the book.