The Corpse Flower

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Pub Date 3 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 3 Mar 2022

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For fans of Jo Nesbø and Henning Mankell comes a gripping suspense novel about revenge, justice, and forgiveness.

It's early September in Copenhagen, the rain has been coming down for weeks, and 36-year-old journalist Heloise Kaldan is in the middle of a nightmare. One of her sources has been caught lying, and she could lose her job over it. And then she receives the first in a series of cryptic and ominous letters from an alleged killer.

Wanted in connection with the fatal stabbing of a young lawyer three years earlier, Anna Kiel hasn't been seen by anyone since she left the crime scene covered in blood. The police think she's fled the country and have zero clues as to her motive. But homicide detective Erik Scháfer comes up with the first lead when the reporter who first wrote about the case is found murdered in his apartment. Has Anna Kiel struck again, or is there more than one killer at large? And why does every clue point directly to Heloise Kaldan?

Meanwhile, the letters keep coming, and they hint at a connection between Anna and Heloise. As Heloise starts digging deeper, she realizes that, to tell Anna's story, she will have to revisit the darkest parts of her own past - confronting someone she swore she'd never see again.

For fans of Jo Nesbø and Henning Mankell comes a gripping suspense novel about revenge, justice, and forgiveness.

It's early September in Copenhagen, the rain has been coming down for weeks, and...

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ISBN 9781800750715
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Featured Reviews

I would like to thank Netgalley and Swift Press for an advance copy of The Corpse Flower, a stand-alone thriller set mostly in Copenhagen.

Journalist Eloise Kaldan is in the middle of fighting for her job after a source gave her false information when she receives a letter from wanted murderer Anna Kiel. Anna has been on the run for three years after stabbing a successful lawyer and in the letter reveals knowledge of Heloise that she shouldn’t have. Heloise is adamant that she doesn’t know Anna and doesn’t know what she wants.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Corpse Flower, which is an entertaining tale of revenge, power and cruelty. It is told mainly from three points of view, Eloise, Anna and DS Erik Schäfer, who is leading the hunt for Anna. The novel opens with Anna and hints that she has a plan to deal with a mysterious “him”. That had me hooked as I wanted to know more. It proceeds from there as the author gradually builds her story with strategic reveals, developments and a certain amount of violent acts. It is well done and while it offers nothing substantially new to the genre the author’s easy, readable style makes it a page turner. It had me glued to the pages, past the denouement to the finale.

I found the novel to be highly entertaining. Eloise and Anna are fairly serious characters, but DS Erik Schäfer steals the show with his no nonsense approach and brutal humour. His interactions with his partner Detective Lisa Augustin made me laugh and, yet, they are never less than professional. I would love to see them again.

The Corpse Flower is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.

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Anna Kriel is in Paris but why does she flee when a tourist with a camera spots her? The tourist is Danish and she takes her picture to Detective Erik Schäfer on her return home because Anna is wanted for the murder of lawyer Christoffer Mossing. Meanwhile, Heloise Kaldan a journalist for Demokratisk Dagblad is sent a series of cryptic letters from Anna in which she talks in riddles and amongst others things she says they are connected. What the investigation reveals is something as rotten as the Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus Titanium) which when flowering emits a foul stench.

This is a debut of great promise and a duo I definitely want to read more about. Heloise is as fascinating as her name, she seems straightforward but actually she complex and therefore intriguing. Schäfer is also interesting, unafraid, loyal and intelligent and I really like the banter between the two of them which works so well. There is plenty of humour interjected throughout though on a few occasions it feels a bit of a place. A journalist/detective combination as central protagonists allows for a lot more plot potential than a detective duo as the journalist has more ‘latitude’! Initially, the storytelling is a bit convoluted, there’s a lot going on in multiple storylines but once it gets going and the complex threads begin connecting, the plot thickens and it becomes hard to put down. The deeper you go into the well paced novel the darker and more sinister it gets. It reveals a heartbreaking, grim wickedness which is very shocking and it makes sense of so much that happens in the earlier part of the book. It also allows greater understanding of Heloise as she has buried part of her past in the interests of self preservation.

Overall, I really enjoy this one and I look forward to reading the follow up books and hopefully it’s not too long before they are available to us.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Swift Press for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

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THE CORPSE FLOWER is Nordic Noir at its finest!

I admit that I probably would have passed right by this book had I not heard about it from a friend. It’s a bit misleading, because the “corpse flower” in the title does not refer to actual corpses, but to a large Indonesian plant (Amorphophallus titanium) which emits a stench similar to that of rotting flesh, thus attracting flies and carrion beetles to its flowers to pollinate them. In the book, the flower has a certain significance to one of its characters. So if you were put off by the images of rotting corpses the title evokes, fear not!

The story may start off innocently enough, a bit slow even. But don’t be fooled! As with any mystery that involves a whole investigative team – in this case Danish investigative journalist Heloise Kaldan and homicide detective Erik Schäfer – there is a bit of character building to set the scene, as was the case here. We also have an elusive killer, a woman named Anna Kiel, who is on the run after brutally murdering a lawyer in his home. When she contacts Heloise by writing her cryptic letters, she is as much in the dark as we are! Who is Anna Kiel? Why did she kill a man? And what is her connection to Heloise?

As the story unfolds, Heloise will not only put herself in the path of danger, but she will uncover a dark, horrible secret that fits in well with the genre. I really liked Heloise as the lead. She is enigmatic, fearless and suitably flawed herself to give her a good backstory. Ditto with Erik Schäfer – I would love to see them both back in future books. Because Heloise is the person we get to hear most from, this is not your typical police procedural, which perhaps made the path to the final reveal more relatable as Heloise has to use her own incentive and investigative skills without the privilege of police databases and resources.

All in all, THE CORPSE FLOWER had all the dark elements I love in the Nordic Noir genre, plus two enigmatic lead characters who I would love to see back in future books. Once the story gets rolling, it will lead you into murky waters and topics troubled enough to haunt you in your nightmares. With an overall theme of justice and revenge, the story gradually built tension until I could not tear myself away and had to read late into the night until I had all the answers. A great book from a new voice in Danish crime fiction!

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The Corpse Flower is a stunning example of Nordic Noir, which took me right back to the first books that made me fall in love with this genre. An incredibly dark subject matter, investigating old secrets, a string of murders and a collection of determined characters in a story that is set against the archetypal backdrop of Copenhagen. The story is based around three main characters - Journalist Heloise Kaldan, Detective Erik Schäfer and the mysterious Anna Kiel - who find themselves in a complex cat-and-mouse game as a mystery from the past comes crashing into the present day.

Anna is wanted for the murder of a lawyer and Detective Schäfer has been waiting for the opportunity to arrest her ever since she fled the murder scene. After three years in hiding, Anna sends a cryptic letter to Heloise which gives the impression that the pair are connected somehow. Desperate for a hot story to report on, Heloise speaks to a former colleague who was the lead reporter during the original investigation, and after warning her to stay away from the case, he is found dead in his apartment. This prompts Heloise and Detective Schäfer to begin unravelling a disturbing web of lies, cover-ups and violence which could have personal and devastating repercussions for them both.

This story was beautifully written, multi-layered, intense and fast-paced - it hooked me from the first page and I couldn't bring myself to put it down, what a powerful and emotional debut!

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Ace investigative journalist Heloise Kaldan is in a bit of a slump, which is what happens when it turns out you didn't vet one of your sources properly. Luckily - or unluckily, as it turns out - she's handed a new story in the form of a wanted murderer, Anna Kiel, sending her mysterious, cryptic letters.

This hook'll get you right from the start, but the story doesn't go where you think it will. Ordinarily the "killer leaving coded letters" thing ends with enough bodies for the murderer to earn the 'serial" prefix. In fact, though there's sinister intent a-plenty in Corpse Flower, it approaches its central mystery from an unexpected angle: Anna Kiel makes no attempt to disguise the fact that she stabbed a successful young lawyer to death. The mystery, then, is why she did it, and Heloise (and the detectives also investigating the case) must follow a twisty, years old path to figure that out.

It's refreshing to see a book doing this, and Hancock has a particularly good line in describing people, both unsettling and comical in equal measure - a neo-Chandler flare for characterisation. There's not a person you meet in this book that you can't instantly picture or otherwise understand their type. I wish the ending were a little less neat and coincidental than it is, but on the other hand it is seeded well with grim hints early on, so not really a big complaint in a book this stylish and witty. Thanks to NetGalley and Swift Press for the advance copy.

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An intriguing plot, characters with integrity (or not), hidden histories, evil personified and perfect revenge. A fantastic debut: surely there is more to come from this author!

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This book is so good that it is hard to believe it’s a debut! To be honest, the strange title could have put me off a bit but all became clear as the story unfolded. The 3 main characters were great, and I loved the banter between Heloise the journalist and Schäfer the detective. The whole novel was so well written and clever. It is an emotional and powerful story about justice, and uncovering dark and terrible secrets. It’s not often I cross my fingers and hope that someone gets away with murder - but in this case I did, and I would have crossed my toes too if I could. Did they, didn’t they? You have to read it to find out. I’m looking forward to more from this brilliant author.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the storyline was original and fascinating and the characters very well portrayed. I did have a slight problem in imagining Heloise but Schafer was an easy one with his brusque manner and adored wife. It was such a nice change to read a novel set in Denmark, so much of the UK and US market is flooded with similar books all advertising themselves as being the new……or if you enjoyed Gone Girl or Girl on a Train, they were thrashed out by publishers for years until you became sick of the mention. Other books and authors do exist and many are brilliant, such as Anne, the author of this highly enjoyable saga. Without hesitation I give it five stars but do have a couple of issues that I will include in notes to the publisher, one serious one regarding the inclusion of that deplorable American word, gotten. It litters and destroys what would be good books, it’s not even grammatically correct English or an actual word. it’s a slang, lazy inclusion the same as my other grievance against Americanisms , where while words are missed out, for example “she walked out the door” what happened to OF. But I digress only because I felt that the publishers cheapened Anne’s brilliant book with continual gottens, probably in preparation for the US market. I was also not struck on the title, it sounds like a British historical novel, again I will add it to my pub,ishers notes. So in conclusion this is an excellent book that I highly recommend and look forward to lots more from this author.

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What a great debut!

I admit reading the preview; a detective and a journalist who end up working on the same case, I was thinking that it had maybe been done before and is it going to be Millennium Trilogy lite!? But who cares, with a book as well written as this, it doesn't have to be a 100% new and original idea, it just has to grab your attention and want you coming back for more. I couldn't put it down, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the start to the finish and am delighted that there are already more books written in the author's mother tongue. Hopefully they will be translated and we can get some more of these great characters!!!

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People in the English speaking universe will soon appreciate what most of Europe have known since her debut in 2017. Anne Mette Hancock writes a cracking crime thriller.

Firstly, a nod to the translation; no-one is credited for turning Danish into English so I am sure it is the author herself which ensures that the words are on point and faithful to the primary text.

Secondly, while there are echos of Henning Mankell and familiar notes, with a journalist working alongside the investigation, like in the Millennium Trilogy. This is not an imitation, this is original creative writing at its best.

So let me introduce you to an author who makes her own entrance in this compelling and brilliantly insightful book. Remember the name as she will become the talk of this year in this genre as a fresh and innovative writer.

The opening chapters take us briefly into the world of the three main characters. Lifting a veil that leaves each in an intriguing situation and sets up a mystery that unravels in a cleverly told story. This sets a pace that you are determined to maintain in this different approach to understanding violent crime and wider conspiracies.

As a first novel, a writer has a void which their imagination strives to fill, introducing characters into 3D personalities that hopefully lift from the page. Often the process is almost choreographed and unfolds in traditional ways.
“Failed protagonist living with issues and a checkered past that mean we have a reluctant, flawed hero to get behind.”

Not here. Everything is bright and pristine new. Bold and courageous, with edgy considerations given to motive, relationships and an approach to justice. Consequently this a breathe of fresh air and a demonstration of a writer who is thoughtful and engaging with a distinctive voice.

We are presented with a cold case; a seemingly senseless random murder where the perpetrator made no attempt to conceal her identity. On the run in France, she has a stray photographer capture her image so that those after her still may be able to pick up her trail. But all is not lost as she plans to break cover for her own reasons which involve her contacting a journalist via airmail with cryptic words and unclear motives. She hints they have a connection which initially makes Heloise Kaldan more of a suspect than an impartial reporter to detective sergeant Erik Schäfer and raises his expectations that he will bring suspect Anna Kiel to justice.

Strong opening which maintains a sense of threat to all parties throughout. Crime and punishment seems out of step where knowledge of guilt doesn’t mean proof can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. Danish courts and sentencing also are flagged up as to why some might seek to take the law into their own hands. While the sense of omertà, a code of silence among criminals can frustrate the most diligent of detectives.

Can’t praise this book and author highly enough. A wonderful find and I can’t wait for the next translation in the series MERCEDES-SNITTET – THE COLLECTOR by Anne Mette Hancock.

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