cover image Farewell to Freedom

Farewell to Freedom

Sara Blaedel, trans. from the Danish by Erik J. Macki and Tara F. Chace. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25 (384p) ISBN 978-1-60598-453-7

In Blaedel’s gloomy third procedural to be published in the U.S. (after 2012’s Only One Life), the police investigation into the death of a young woman in Copenhagen’s disreputable Skelbaekgade neighborhood is met with indifference from potential witnesses desensitized by drugs, alcohol, and hard living. Det. Louise Rick’s journalist friend, Camilla Lind, fights for coverage of the case, but is understandably sidetracked when her 11-year-old son discovers an abandoned baby in a church. Louise and Camilla trace both cases back to the sinister Bosko, who profits from war tourism and human trafficking alike. Flat writing suits a determinedly bleak landscape, but does not inspire, and the intriguing possibilities of Blaedel centering this gritty thriller on female friendship go mostly unexplored. The novel succeeds best in brief, haunting portraits of Copenhagen’s downtrodden: immigrants, failures, and the chronically unlucky. The tough narrative voice curbs sentiment. (Dec.)