The Girl Without Skin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

The Girl Without Skin was such an interesting, disturbing, twisting read. It's so complicated and gory that I was hooked for the entire book. I must say though that it was so gory at times to the point where I would skip several lines. Keep this in mind if you want to read it. Other than that, this book was incredible in every way other than that it was a somewhat slow read. Not much happens for a really long time; only at the end do things start to really pick up. This book is so much more than a murder mystery; it also delves into rape and abuse. There are two timelines, one in the present and one in the past when the events being investigated are happening in real time. One thing that I loved yet also hated about this book was that the reader is kept in the dark about so many things for so long. I don't know if I can speak for everyone, but I didn't figure out who the killer was until the very end. This book was incredibly interesting and unique, and I would highly recommend it. It involves several very complex characters, and nothing is as simple as it seems.
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"Inside the Golf, an ashen-faced man was staring into the eyes of a woman. She was trapped between the compressed roof and the dislocated floor of the car."
Mathew lost his wife and his unborn daughter in a car accident. He was alive and so had to go on living with this. He needed to go on living so he decided to go to his father's (who is already lost for him) hometown, Nuuk. And there he began to work as a reporter but his wife's and his unborn child's ghosts were with him. 
Everything begins with some hunters finding a body that's been mummified which may be from the Viking age. So that was huge news because the body can be the oldest one from Viking age. But everything becomes messy after the police who was protecting the mummified body has been murdered, and so the article about the mummified body (even though it was ready already) written by Mathew was canceled until everything clarified. After Mathew learn that the way the police was killed has the similarity with the serial murder at the 1973s with that he began to investigate old cases. In the end, he finds himself in the flow of events like serial murders, child abuses, etc. Read and learn what happens to him for yourself. 

"If I stand still, I'll turn to stone. If I stand still, life can reach me and touch me. My deepest fear and longing are encompassed in the same thought. One day I will flee so high up the mountain that its pulsating stone heart will take me in and let me feel what it means to be still. So still that I can't hear anything. But feel everything. While turning to stone."
This is quoted from the ending, but it doesn't spoil the ending and he tells that this is what he wrote to his unborn daughter, so I wanted to share here.

In the story, we are in 1973s and 2014s Nuuk. Firstly we learn the story from Mathew's point of view but after he gets the policeman's diary who has investigated the serial murder case at 1973s, we begin to see the story from policeman' point of view. At first, everything seems simple and obvious why it was happening. But with the story go on we began to learn everything more complicated from what it seems. 
I liked how the story was told. The characters in the story were well developed. This story has strong females who were abused but they cope up with their painful past (which I can't even think how can happen these things to a child) go on with their life. Everything becomes clearer close to end but I wouldn't guess how would it end when I began to read. Even though this is the first book in the series I'm satisfied with the story without adding anything. But I would like to learn about Mathew father (which I think we will learn with the other books in the series). This is the first book I read written by Mads Peder Nordbo but won't be the last one. I would recommend this book anyone who likes to read mystery, crime genre.

Thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review, and making this available!
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Scandi-noir is such a popular genre these days, but this is the first book I've come across that takes place in Greenland. It added such an atmospheric element to this gritty novel. Plus I learned so much about the culture and geography of the world's largest island, as well as its tenuous relationship with Denmark. 

The story itself is dark and quite engaging, with a collection of sympathetic characters. It was sometimes hard to follow, though, especially toward its climatic end. I have to wonder if this is due to things being lost in translation, but either way it was still a gripping read. I'll definitely be reading any other English translations in this series.
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As the title suggests – this book is not for the faint of heart! I love a good Nordic thriller, and THE GIRL WITHOUT SKIN has every element that characterises the genre: a haunting atmospheric setting, a somewhat bleak atmosphere, gruesome crimes and two main characters scarred by their tragic back stories.

This is the first book set in Greenland for me, and though I thought that the setting was fantastic and starred as a character in its own right, it is no travel brochure. Nordbo, who has lived in Nuuk for many years, gives a chilling account of life in this remote place. There are many trigger warnings here, so if you are sensitive to topics of domestic violence, rape, incest and child abuse you should enter this one cautiously. For me, novels that are not afraid to expose the sinister side of society and offer some social criticism add some depth and meaning to my reading experience, and I feel that I learned something about life on one of the most remote places on earth. 

Nordbo tells his story through the eyes of two main characters and two separate timelines 40 or so years apart. When the unsolved crimes of the past rear their ugly heads again in the present, troubled journalist Matt Cave becomes entangled in the investigation. Matt is an enigmatic, genuine and tragic character I warmed to immediately. Having lost his wife and unborn child in a terrible car accident, he is haunted by demons and the hopelessness that follows grief. Perhaps it is this that makes him somewhat fearless to expose crimes and corruption even if it comes at great risk to his own personal safety. And be assured, the people in this novel who want the past to stay hidden are ruthless in their pursuit! Seeing how people with demons tend to gravitate towards each other, it is no surprise that Matthew feels drawn to a young woman, Tupaarnaq, whose tragic childhood and past abuse have made her determined in the way that people who have little to lose sometimes become. Tupaarnaq, who is on a similar mission to seek justice for past wrongs, soon becomes a valuable ally to Matt. As other reviewers have mentioned, Tupaarnaq, who is tough on the outside but also strangely vulnerable, reminded me of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, and she added much to the story for me.

The second main character is Jacob, who is a police officer in Nuuk in the 1970’s, following up on reports of alleged incest and child abuse that is rife in society at the time, and which everyone is eager to ignore. A spade of horrific murders seems to follow his investigation, and the hierarchy are determined to shut him down. But Jacob has become close to one of the victims, and is determined to help her at all cost – which will put him right in the path of the killer.

When a body is found in an ice crevasse that bears the same MO as the murders in the 1970’s the two timelines connect, and we are being taken on a chilling and spine tingling story of corruption, murder and survival in the one of the harshest landscapes on Earth. 

All in all, THE GIRL WITHOUT SKIN was an honestly brutal, chilling and yet utterly captivating book set against the haunting backdrop of one of the bleakest and most remote landscapes on Earth. It features everything I have come to expect in a good Nordic thriller, and swiftly drew me into its world like only very skilled writers accomplish with such ease. I very much look forward to the next book in the series, which I believe will be published later this year.
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*Many thanks to Mads Peder Nordbo, Text Publishing and Netgalley for ARC in exchange for my honest review.*
The novel is a solid thriller set in Greenland and with two timelines. A journalist gets involved in a mystery that has its roots 40 years earlier. To me it was a decent read although I would like to warn future readers that there are some rather graphic descriptions and the child abuse in the centre of the story which is quite a sensitive issue.
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A richly emotive and descriptive novel set in an icy land. It maintains a striking level of unease throughout, which can be difficult to achieve, but it has been done so well. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read this novel
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Fab read. Could not put down. Highly recommended to all. Believable characters. Great author. Will be watching out for more titles.
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Gripping and full of atmosphere, in a way that only the Nordic novels seem to manage. The Greenland setting really helped here and added an extra layer to the plot. I have found in the past that Nordic novels lose something when they're translated into English but there was rarely anything clunky here. Really enjoyed it and will look out for more from the author in the future.
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A stunning beautiful violent story set in Greenland in two parts with unsolved murders some years ago and similar crimes today. A crusading journalist investigates aided by a tattooed girl fresh out of prison seeks the truth with shock revelation upon shock revelation the pace never lessens. The storyline from both times knits together cleverly all culminating in a blood soaked denouement. Brilliant!
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I liked the book.. mostly because i learned about greenland and the story was so gripping.  I very much enjoyed this book. thank you.. 
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I love Nordic Crime mysteries. The first one I read was "Smilla’s Sense of Snow" by Peter Hoeg years ago. Then came the "The Girl With.." series of books by Steig Larsson and a whole new world of crime fiction blossomed.

This is the first in a series of Nordic Noir books set in Greenland. "The Girl Without Skin" by Mads Peder Nordbo and translated by Charlotte Barslund is set in modern day Greenland featuring a tormented journalist named Matthew Cave. He is assigned a story that could be the story of a lifetime: the find of a mummified body in the ice that could possibly be a Viking.

Instead of a straight forward find, Matthew finds himself in the middle of a brutal crime investigation that could be linked to more brutal crimes from years ago. He is joined in his mission to seek the truth with a native woman named Tupaarnaq. She may be linked to both the murders from the past and the current day crimes.

The story excels at setting the Greenland scene: the sights, smells, the weather and the politics of the place. As a non-Greenlander, I found all of this interesting to learn. It is nothing as I imagined Greenland to be. The names of the people and places can be tricky to remember since they are all foreign to me, but all in all, I enjoyed reading this book.

The only quibble I have is I am tired of books titled: “The Girl..”. Stop this! It is repetitive and getting to be annoying. It has been done a million times now. Stop. The other issue I have is it seems to be close to the Steig Larsson books, with a tattooed female lead and a damaged journalist. The Larsson books weren’t written that long ago and I am probably not the only reader who wishes that others would stop riffing on that tune.

I will give this novel a 3 out of 5 stars for sense of place and for the quality of the translation. Thanks to NetGalley for a chance to read the ARC.
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Translated from Scandinavian this is a great example of Nordic crime noir.  The opening chapter is quite graphic and gets my heart rate up a little.
Matthew works for a newspaper and is still haunted by nightmares of the day his wife and unborn child were killed in a car accident.  He is one of the first on the scene when the body of what appears to be a mummified Norseman is discovered.  Shortly after the police officer guarding the body is found gutted and his intestines missing.
When his story is blocked Matthew focuses on a series of unsolved murders and discovers the victims may have been more evil than the murderer/s.  He is handed a copy of a journal relating to that time and hopes it will contain some answers to the past and possibly the present.  He learns Jakob Pedersen was the officer who tried to protect a little girl from abuse and who mysteriously disappeared.
When past and present join shocking crimes are revealed.  This is a gripping, emotionally taut novel with strong characters and plenty of atmosphere.  Interesting title and cover helped tempt me initially.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a free digital copy of the book in return for an honest review.
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The Girl Without Skin begins with what seems to be an important historical find, a Norse mummy in a crevasse. A police officer left to guard the body is murdered, his body flensed and eviscerated with an ulu, as though the murderer was skinning a seal. When journalist Matthew Cave begins to invesigate the murder, he is told about a series of four murders back in the 1970s that were uncannily similar–four men all flensed and eviscerated.

Matthew is given a notebook kept by Jacob, the man who investigated the murders in the Seventies. He is captivated by the man’s writing, poetic and emotionally rich descriptions of the land, and intrigued by the case.The forty-year-old mystery is centered on the abuse of young Greenlander girls. Their fathers are murdered, but Jacob comes to suspect there is a connection to Greenland’s most powerful leaders. Matthew soon learns they are involved again as he is threatened directly.

The police are certain a recently released woman named Tupaarnaq  is involved in the new murders. She was convicted of killing her mother, sisters, and father and has the kind of powerful self-possession of Lisbeth Salander. Matthew is fascinated, awed, and certain she is innocent. They work together to solve the case.



Mads Peder Nordbo creates a vivid environment, cold, damp, and fog-bound. He makes the environment an integral component of the story. Even the murders grow out of the customs of Greenland. The flaying of the murder victims with an ulu is a skill many learned when hunting seals. The sense of place is strong enough to bring me back to read the rest of the series when it is available even though I have some serious criticims of the book.

There are too many plots in The Girl Without Skin. There are the four murders in the Seventies, the disappearance of investigator Jakob, the sexual abuse of young girls, medical experiments, government corruption, the murder of Tupaarnaq’s family, the current murders, and the disappearance of the corpse in the crevasse.

While I recognize that many of the Danes are portrayed as corrupt, this book suffers from the “white savior” syndrome. The Inuit portrayed are consistently as complicit in the crimes and Matthew and Jakob, the white saviors seeking justice. If Tupaarnaq were centered as the hero, the story would be more interesting, but instead she is exoticised by Matthew. The Danish/Greenlander relationship is fraught with the same biases of all colonial relationships and they permeate the book.

I received an e-galley of The Girl Without Skin from the publisher through NetGalley.

The Girl Without Skin at Text Publishing Company
Mads Peder Nordbo author site
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the story kept me at the edge of my seat from the very beginning.... even though i didn't like how matthew was a bit timid in the beginning but i loved how his character evolved during the story.
the core of the story touches on a lot of sensitive topics such as rape and horrendous murders so a trigger warning to anyone who wishes to read it.
on in all i can't wait to read the next installment of the Matthew cave thrillers ^^
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I’m always looking for new-to-me Nordic Noir.  Greenland, hmm…now that’s different, a little bit New World, yet still under the dominion of Denmark.  This could be something with a new twist.  Toss in a mummified Viking corpse – sign me up!

The Girl Without Skin was not what I expected or hoped for.  I was in the mood for a historical/current mystery, you know the kind, that goes back and forth in time.  It was that, just not as historical as I wanted.  I was looking forward to bouncing between Matthew Cave in the here and now and this mysterious Viking from way back when.  Instead the story only went back to the 1970s.

Once the disappointment sets in, it’s hard to get into a story that I wasn’t really in the mood for.  But to be fair, Nordbo did put a lot of hard work into his story.  His skill and attention to detail was evident.

Matthew Cave has what any fan of Nordic Noir would want in their protagonist, he is damaged, but he still goes on.  Once he gets a sniff of the trouble brewing, he is like a dog with a bone and no one is taking that away from him.

I enjoyed the aspects of Greenlandic life as it was portrayed by Nordbo.  I always like to get a glimpse of how things operate in other places.

The Girl Without Skin is an interesting addition to my Nordic Noir repertoire, if only I hadn’t gotten my hopes up for a story that wasn’t there.  Well, you know what happens when you assume that a story is going to go in a certain direction.

*3 Stars
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A Nordic setting, mummified a mummified body, and a presumable link the a series of murders from the past... 
A true gem for any fan of mystery and Scandinavian/Nordic fiction.
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I wanted to read this book as I knew nothing about Greenland and its relationship to Denmark and Danish people. Matt Cave is a Danish journalist who has lost everything and is in despair. He is drawn to Nuk, a town in Greenland, and is called on to write about body discovered in the ice,, gutted and murdered in extreme violence.   During the course of his enquirers he stumbles across a very troubling history in the town and exposes a scandal many years old.  I think the translation is a bit clunky but overall the story is interesting. A bit graphic and some trigger warnings for sexual abuse.
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The Girl Without Skin is the first book in the Matthew Cave series. 
He is a journalist working on Greenland, in a town called Nuuk. When a mummified corpse in found on the ice sheet, he is sent to report the finding. But when the corpse disappears and the police officer who guarded it is found brutally murdered things start to turn bad real quick. More dead bodies turn up. As Matt delves deeper and deeper into these murders he finds out about other murders that happened in the 1970s. Those cases and the present ones are connected. But how? Why? Is the perpetrator the same? 

I’ve read my fair share of scandinavian crime novels but it seems they can always surprise me with something new. The complexity of the story is astonishing. I coudn’t stop reading it because it truly is captivating. 

The main character, Matthew Cave has a troubled past and that determines his way of thinking, the reasons of his decisions. He is a smart, determined and very emotional person, I felt connected to him instantly. 
The other main character Tuuparnaq is his complete opposite. She is a loner, very rude. She also has a troubled past, they have that in common. I think that is the reason they work. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Text Publishing and Mads Peder Nordbo for my copy. All opinions are my own.
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“The Girl Without Skin” is a well written, suspenseful novel linking current murders to similar crimes which occurred a number of years ago. This book is typical of the Nordic Noir genre, but also informs the reader about life in a little known, small community where terrible goings-on may be overlooked in the interests of political advancement.
There is a strong resemblance between the protagonists of this novel (A Danish journalist and his feisty, fearless, tattooed female helper) and those of the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson. This did not detract from my enjoyment of this gripping novel with it’s unexpected plot twists and exciting pace. Highly recommended. Thanks to Text Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC.
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I wish I’d been able to read this for longer periods at a time. As it was, I was only able to dip into a few chapters at a time, and therefore lost track a bit as I became confused by some of the Inuit names, and the time changes. 
The book gave me a fascinating glimpse into Greenland’s history and culture. I just sincerely hope that the statistics given about child abuse in that country are exaggerated, although a quick Google search confirms it’s a real issue. Apart from that issue, the book also explores political corruption and unethical medical experimentation, among others.
Matthew, a journalist with a tragic past, is setting off to cover his first big story in Nuuk, Greenland.  This was “the first time a well-preserved Norseman had ever been found, and historians and archaeologists already had high hopes that this mummy would teach them more about the everyday life of the Norsemen.”
I was hugely disappointed when the mummy subsequently disappeared as I was really interested in finding out more about this! But this disappearance laid the foundation for the story as the policeman stationed to guard the body was found gruesomely murdered. This set Matthew off to investigate not only the current case, but a series of murders that took place in the 1970s as well.
I actually enjoyed the story of those early murders more than I did the current one, as Nordbo led me from one period to the other and back again. I really enjoyed Tupaarnaq, a Greenlandic woman who had been wrongly imprisoned, yet emerged strong, stoic and determined, although fragile in some ways. 
It’s a great book, well translated, with lots of drama and surprises, and a satisfying ending.
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