Stefan Ahnhem – X Ways to Die

stefan ahnhem x ways to die
Stefan Ahnhem – X Ways to Die

Detective Fabian Risk actually could do with some free time to get his family together after the awful events that nearly killed his wife and daughter. Yet, he and his colleagues still have a serial killer on the loose and the killing of people does not stop. Even though the cases could hardly be more different, he senses that there must be some connection. They are finally getting closer to him, but while the Swedish seaside town of Helsingborg is gripped in fear, Fabian also has to complete his very own mission: His former colleague Elvin did not die from suicide, it was forensic scientist Ingvar Molander and obviously, Elvin had put the clues together correctly. Yet, there are still some missing pieces that Fabian needs to uncover before he can finally arrest him, knowing that he has not only a very clever nemesis who knows the rules of the game, but also one who is totally reckless and ready to do everything to get away with much more than one murder.

Stefan Ahnhem continues the story exactly where it ended in “Motive X” and does not waste any time but plunges directly into the plot. Just as in the novel before, “X Ways to Dies” moves at an extremely high pace and cleverly combines the different plot lines that finally tie the knot together. For me, Ahnhem is a worthy successor and heir of Stieg Larsson who set new milestones with his Millennium series; Ahnhem follows his footsteps in many respects by delivering a demanding plot full of suspense.

The latest instalment answers many questions which remained open in the one before thus completing the story and bringing it to a convincing end. What I totally adored was the fight between Risk and Molander, both very clever and certainly belonging to the best in their jobs thus fighting at eye level and giving a lot of insight into police work.  Several setbacks make Risk an authentic and credible protagonist who also shows his weak and vulnerable sides.

The only question left to be answered: does and if so how can the story go on?

Stefan Ahnhem – Motive X

stefan-ahnheim-motive-x
Stefan Ahnhem – Motive X

It’s only four weeks after his life was almost completely devastated, but now Fabian Risk sees light again when his daughter Matilda wakes from the coma. Yet, there is not really the time to spend it with his family since Helsingborg police have several tricky cases to solve: a young boy is found dead in a washing machine, a woman is killed and a third murder case also does not seem to have any recognizable pattern. The team’s nerves are on the edge since all of them also have to fight with their own demons. For Fabian, there is also something that has been nagging him since they found their former colleague Elvin dead in his apartment: he cannot believe in the suicide theory and slowly, the pieces seem to fall into place, but does he like the result? Could one of their colleagues actually be a serial murderer?

Stefan Ahnhem continues in this instalment of the Fabian Risk series exactly where he stopped in “18 below”. Quite often you can read a novel form a series without knowing what happened before, here, however, you will certainly not understand a lot without any prior knowledge. And it is obvious that there is more to come since, unfortunately, the big questions are not answered and this is why I could not rate it with five stars.

Again, the author underlines why he is one of the big names of Scandinavian crime. Ahnhem does not tell one story, but he has several plots running parallel, oscillating between them and pushing forward the pots at a very high speed. Admittedly, I could not really say which one is the most important plot here, but it made completely sense since life isn’t a succession of stories that wait in line until their time has come. This happen at the same time and rarely do you have the time to only focus on one case or problem at a time.

Since there is so much going on in “Motive X”, the character development is a bit reduced, but Risk seems to have found his private case to investigate all alone. This will surely be decisive for his life, even more than his family life which is in a very fragile state. Whom I followed eagerly again was Irene Lilja, she surely is somehow out of control, but her motives are good.

All in all, a great read with all the ingredients for a thriller that hooks you at once.

Stefan Ahnhem – 18 Below

stefan-ahnhem-18-below
Stefan Ahnhem – 18 Below

A curious accident turns out to be the beginning of an incredible series of murder. On a hot summer day, a car speeds through Helsingborg and is only stopped by the water front. The autopsy of the body reveals that he has been dead for at least two months, the body frozen. When Fabian Risk and his colleagues investigate the victim’s life, they come across a case of not just stolen identity, but also stolen millions from the rich man. Obviously a doppelgänger has taken over his life and transferred all his money. A great strategy and as it turns out, it has been working for quite some time already. While Fabian’s full attention is demanded at work, his marriage comes to an end. His wife seems to eventually make a big with her art work and his kids are immersed in other things. No one in the family pays attention to the other anymore which turns out to be a serious mistake, since all of them get in danger, again.

Part two of the Fabian Risk series is a psychological thriller that cleverly combines the detective’s police work with the developments in his private life. I liked the protagonist in this second novel a lot more than in the first since he now has become a real team player and not the single cop who can do all on his own. What I also liked is that his Danish colleague reappears and that her story, too, is continued.

At the beginning, the thriller starts with quite a strange case of murder and does not seem to turn out too complicated. Admittedly, for me having the two cases, one on the Swedish and one on the Danish side of the Øresund, seemed to be a classic setting with enough to solve for the two teams. Yet, Stefan Ahnhem could really surprise me with what a net of crime he has woven here. The more the novel advances the more you can just read and stare and admire the complexity of the plot. The action accelerates increasingly and this the further you get the harder it becomes to put it away. A great read and surely makes you eager to read more of Stefan Ahnhem.

Stefan Ahnhem – Victim without a Face [Und morgen du]

stefan-ahnhem-victim-without-a-face
Stefan Ahnhem – Victim without a Face 

Kommissar Fabian Risk zieht mit seiner Familie von Stockholm zurück in seine Heimatstadt Helsingborg. Gemeinsam wollen sie noch einige Wochen Urlaub machen, bevor er seinen Dienst antreten muss. Doch seine Chefin kontaktiert ihn schon am Umzugstag wegen einem mysteriösen Doppelmord: zwei ehemalige Klassenkameraden Fabians wurden bestialisch getötet. Schnell ist klar, dass sich jemand rächen will und ein lange zurückliegendes Mobbing scheint das Motiv. Fabian ist dem vermeintlichen Täter unmittelbar auf den Fersen – bis auch dieser tot aufgefunden wird. Offenbar haben sie den falschen im Visier und irgendwen der alten Klasse übersehen. Unterdessen geht das Morden unaufhaltsam weiter.

Stefan Ahnhems Debüt ist ein Psychothriller, der gleich mehrere urmenschliche Themen aufgreift: zentral ist das Motiv der Morde, die Auswirkungen, die schulisches Mobbing auch noch Jahre später haben kann und von dem sich manche unter Umständen nie erholen. Aber auch in den ermittelnden Teams spielen psychologische Fragen wesentliche Rollen: wie gut ist man als Teamplayer bzw. wer kann sich nicht integrieren, wie geht man mit Schwächen und Fehlern um, wie wirkt sich Machtbesessenheit aus und wie weit sind Menschen bereit zu gehen, um den äußeren Schein aufrecht zu halten? Daneben kann die clevere Konstruktion durch viele falsche Fährten und immer wieder unerwartete Wendungen punkten.

Die Charaktere konnten mich überzeugen, vor allem, da auch die private und menschliche Seite der Ermittler zum Tragen kommt. Auch wenn sie einen Mord zu lösen haben, findet beispielsweise ihr geplantes gemeinsames Grillen statt. Fabian Risk ist mir persönlich zwar etwas zu sehr Einzelkämpfer, was ich auch nicht immer ganz glaubwürdig finde – ebenso wie seine Heldentaten kurz nach schweren Verletzungen – aber dafür fand ich die Frauenfiguren sehr differenziert und überzeugend. Vor allem ihre Reaktionen, nachdem sie verletzt oder misshandelt wurden, wirken authentisch.

Alles in allem ein recht typischer Schwedenkrimi, der auf der ganzen Linie überzeugen kann.