“Only One Life” by Sara Blædel / Tuesday, October 16, 2012 / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Today’s featured book is Only One Life by Sara Blædel.

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A dead teen and an ethnic community wishing autonomy.

Why Clay Stafford chose this book:

Today’s Killer Nashville Book of the Day is an introduction to author Sara Blædel, Denmark’s designated “Queen of Crime.” You may not be familiar with her. This is only her second book to be translated into English. However, she is a novelist that I think you ought to get to know. Not only is she an internationally best-selling author, but she also founded the first crime fiction publishing house in Denmark. Good to know for you authors who are looking to expand into some foreign territories.

“Only One Life” is a bare bones police procedural. As one would suspect, it is set in Denmark. A young girl is found submerged in water. The cause of death is unknown. An investigation follows. For the would-be crime writer, this is a good story to study and take apart because the investigation is straight-forward and procedural. It reminds me of a Patricia Cornwell novel, but from a detective’s perspective rather than a forensic scientist’s stance. As writers, we buy a lot of books to learn proper procedure. Here is one in action.

The character’s (basically the detective and a newspaper reporter are the key catalysts in the story) are well-written and believable. Like all of us, they have their strengths and weaknesses. You learn some about their personal lives, but not to excess. Both women are more focused on their career tasks than on domestic relationships, which is what gives this novel such a streamlined structure.

Set in Copenhagen’s closed immigrant neighborhoods, this novel is a case of the outsiders trying to infiltrate complex ethnic family and community relationships. What the detectives find is a thriller filled with imported customs and values, indigenous expectations, obsession, family honor, and jealousy. What the reader will find is a great “new” author to follow.

As of this writing, Amazon is running a special on this book. Hardcover. Regularly priced at $25.00. Only $4.43 and ships free if you have a Prime account. And, if you order through the Killer Nashville site, you’ll also be supporting Killer Nashville.

From Amazon:

“Jealousy, obsession, and family honor have fatal consequences for an immigrant community on the fringes of seemingly idyllic Copenhagen society.

It was clearly no ordinary drowning. Inspector Louise Rick is immediately called out to Holbraek Fjord when a young immigrant girl is found in the watery depths, a piece of concrete tied around her waist and two mysterious circular patches on the back of her neck.

Her name was Samra, and Louise soon learns that her short life was a sad story. Her father had already been charged once with assaulting her and her mother, Sada, who makes it clear that her husband would indeed be capable of killing Samra if she brought dishonor to the family. But she maintains that Samra hadn’t done anything dishonorable. Then why was she supposed to be sent back to Jordan? Samra’s best friend Dicte thinks it was an honor killing. A few days later Dicte is discovered, bludgeoned to death, and Samra’s younger sister has gone missing.

Navigating the complex web of family and community ties in Copenhagen’s tightly knit ethnic communities, Louise must find this remorseless predator, or predators, before it is too late.”

If you want to make your own comments on this selection, we would love to hear from you. Join ourFacebook Killer Nashville group page or our blog and join in the discussion.

Remember that these books are listed at a discount through Amazon. You also don’t have to purchase the version that is featured here. Many of these books are available in multiple formats: e–book, hardcover, softcover, and audio. Enjoy!

– Clay Stafford, Founder of Killer Nashville