cover image The Hermit

The Hermit

Thomas Rydahl, trans. from the Danish by K.E. Semmel. Oneworld (PGW, dist.), $21.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-78074-889-4

Erhard, the 60ish hero of Rydahl’s brilliant, scathing debut, which won the Glass Key Award in 2015 for best Nordic crime novel, is a down-at-heels expatriate Danish cabbie and sometime piano tuner. This “old man with tired eyes” has lived in a shack on Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, with only two skittish goats for company for about 20 years. He sends much of his meager earnings to his ex-wife and daughters in Denmark, drinks too much, and occasionally scavenges dumpsters for food. When a three-month-old baby boy is found starved to death in a cardboard box in a car that washes up on the beach, Erhard is outraged. With virtually no resources, lacking a computer and the savvy to use one, but drawing on his own wits and calling in a multitude of favors, Erhard doggedly traces the dead baby’s mother and uncovers a complex smuggling scheme. Stunningly conceived and expertly executed, this portrayal of one man’s thirst for justice in the face of human corruption proves that not even a self-isolated hermit can be an island unto himself. Agent: Jacob Busch, Busch Agency (Denmark). (Nov.)