By Mads Peder Nordbo
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
** English Publication 11 June 2019 **
(first publication 27 April 2017)
Greenland is a far away place that I know little about. In The Girl Without Skin, Greenland is a cold place that has a sad history of its treatment of women. A cold, wet place hiding secrets that are about to unfold in a rather unpredictable way.
Suspenseful is the first word I would use to describe this story. Matthew Cave is a journalist from Denmark who returns to Greenland after the deaths of his wife and unborn child. He is broken and chooses Greenland because it is the place of his birth. Also the last known location of his father, who sent Matthew and his mother to Denmark with the understanding that he would join them shortly. He never returned.
Matthew is placed on a story about a mummy recently discovered in a crevasse in a remote area of Greenland. No one suspects that this mummy will soon bring to light years of secrets and scandal affecting the government of Greenland. Wrapped up in the story and scandal is a young woman with a shaved head and covered neck to ankle in tattoos. Years in prison have hardened her, and she has secrets to share as well.
There were parts of this book that were clearly hard subject matter to read. There is some gore, but in a clinical sense, and not simply for sensationalism. But be warned, these are tough subjects. I found this book hard to put down for so many reasons. It was taking place in a location foreign to me. The flow of the story, traveling between 1973 and 2014, was fraught with drama, love, and tragedy. Very well written, it keeps throwing curveballs and keeps your attention. Although originally written in another language, the translation is well done. As this is the first of Nordbo’s books to be translated into English, it might be a while before getting another chance for a great Danish suspense. Read this one while you’re waiting.