Lisa R. (Salem, OR)
Not for the Faint of Heart
This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. It includes graphic violence, but the mystery was good, and the story kept me attentive. I did have an idea who the killer was, but the author did a good job of not really making it apparent, and in tying the pieces all together for the finish. I would recommend it to hardcore police procedural fans. There were definitely some odd characters in this book. I'm not sure I've read a book in my recent memory where there were some many flawed characters, or those with physical problems. This story felt very true to life in it's setting, although I personally felt that the romantic aspect of the story was a little overdone and unrealistic. It didn't really add to the story itself in my opinion.
Nona F. (Evanston, IL)
I really wanted to like this more
I really was eager to read this book because the premise of related historical/contemporary crimes is one of my favorite narrative devices, and to have it revolve around a book was like hot fudge on top of a sundae. Things seemed very promising since the book starts with one of the most exciting openings that I have read in the recent past. However, the narrative is extremely choppy with two contemporary story lines as well as the historical one, and there are time shifts within each of the 3 narrative lines. The pacing of the book is also uneven, slow and drawn-out in the first 200 pages or so, then rushed in the last parts. Characters are presented rather than developed; the most interesting character is peripheral to the narrative. Some good ideas, but clearly a first time author in terms of execution.
Kathleen W. (New Brighton,, MN)
Welcome Jorgen Brekke!
Those of you who wait impatiently in anticipation of the next intricate mystery will want to locate a copy of Brekke's international bestseller, Where Monsters Dwell. This challenging novel asks the reader to 'operate' in two time periods (1528 and 2010) and three locales (Bergen, Norway/Trondheim, Norway/Richmond, Virginia), all in pursuit of solutions to a perplexing set of crimes. I must admit, as a reader, that the first 100 pages prompted me to keep a current listing of character name and locale within easy reach. However, after that point, this story took off like a rocket.
All in all, the mystery is compelling, the characters are effectively fleshed out and the conclusion, intriguing. Block out some solid time in your reading schedule to try this one on for size. As for me, Brekke joins my lengthening list of solid international mystery writers along with Mankell, Lackberg and Nesbo.
Sarah B. (Streamwood, IL)
Exciting and enjoyable
This was a slow-building read thriller that is never boring or conventional. The story is full of troubled characters that span centuries. The main character is the Johannes Book, and as we learn about the characters we learn more about the book and its importance.
Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
Where Monsters Dwell by Jorgen Brekke
Detectives public or private, murder, and mystery - that's my candy jar. This one is a killer! Not meant to be first of a series, but other stories from this author would be a great thing. Special congratulations to the translator, Steven T. Murray. Easy to read and one that cannot be put aside for mundane chores until complete. Caveat: as is more and more common these days, graphic gore prevails. Drops my rating to a 4. But hubby will no doubt love it!
Juliet F. (Clarendon Hills, IL)
Excellent! Da Vinci Code-esque, but much smarter and darker
I really enjoyed this book! It was very suspenseful and fun to read. The plot lines span Norway in the 1500's to modern-day Norway and Richmond, Virginia. Eventually the lines weave together, revealing an intriguing tale of serial killing in the setting of rare, historical book collecting.
I especially liked the cast of characters. It was interesting that as the plot got more twisted and dire, the two main characters experience sort of re-birth out of prior personal traumas. It made for a more uplifting and hopeful tone than I usually expect from a Scandinavian author. Very good book!
Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)
An exciting and enjoyable read.
As an avid reader of Scandinavian mysteries, I looked forward to reading this book and found it to be an enjoyable read and hard to put down. The book switches from the sixteenth century to the present and back but the changes are well handled and were not at all confusing to me. Historically, the book has been well researched. The characters are interesting and well developed but a little too complex. Every one of them has a troubled past. The The American and Norwegian detectives obviously connect from their first meeting but the intensity of the relationship appears to increase too rapidly for the short time that they are together. Overall, I enjoyed the book and hope to see more from this author.