This is one of the first Scandinavian crime thrillers that I have read in a long time. And sadly, it was disappointing as I found the book completely disjointed with no sense of suspense which you expect in a crime fiction. Lotte and Soren Hammer's The Hanging literally hangs from chapter to chapter while the reader has to desperately struggle to understand what the authors want to communicate. Maybe, the essence of the story has been lost in translation.
It has a gripping storyline and plot. On a cold Monday morning before the start of the school, two young, innocent children make a horrible discovery. Hanging from the roof of the gymnasium are the bodies of five naked and heavily disfigured men. Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and his team in Copenhagen are called in to investigate this horrific case. These men are hanging in a geometric pattern, in fact, the scene so closely resembles a public execution. When the identities of the five victims and the disturbing link between them- of them being pedophiles- is leaked to the press, the sinister motivation behind the killings becomes quite apparent to the police. Up against a rising Internet campaign and even members of his own team, Simonsen finds that he must battle public opinion and vigilante groups in his mission to catch the killers.
Aiming to look at justice and retribution, The Hanging is basically a crime tale, straight from the heart of Scandinavia. It is the first of a six-part crime series, and an international bestseller. Apart from this, the book takes you to the dark, murky world of Copenhagen police investigator Konrad Simonsen.
A sister and brother team from Denmark, Lotte and Soren Hammer began writing crime novels together in 2004. Till date, they have written four books in this series. The story of The Hanging begins on an interesting note but unfortunately tapers in the middle. It turns boring and confusing as too many characters followed by dragging descriptions have been included. There is no element of suspense in this book as the criminals, the perpetrators of this heinous crime, are introduced along with the police investigations. The authors go back and forth describing the causes for such a crime through many characters who are introduced suddenly in different chapters.
Erik Morak is one such character who reveals before his employees the dark truth of his childhood. "When I was five years old, my father died and my stepfather moved in. From that forward until I went to an orphanage at age ten, I was raped three, four, five times a week. Sexual abuse became such an integral part of my childhood that I believed for a long time that it was the way things were, that all kids went through what I did. It was simply not something one talked about, in the same way we don't talk about shitting....... Researchers in Denmark estimate that between one and two per cent of the population have been sexually abused in their childhood which is to say that at this time, about five thousand children between the ages of five and ten years are being victimized. If I am right, then tell me what is the biggest problem in our society? The day cares? The schools? Freeways? Or it is the five hundred children who will be raped tomorrow?"
Although, the idea behind the book : the issue of pedophilia and the legal attitude to this crime in Denmark, is excellent but the storyline is stilted and the translation makes it worse.