On its British TV premiere in 2011, the Danish crime drama The Killing rapidly acquired cult status. A key factor, along with its taciturn but mesmerising heroine Sarah Lund, was the exemplary writing by Søren Sveistrup. His latest contribution to the Nordic noir phenomenon is not on screen but via a tension-charged debut novel The Chestnut Man (a prodigious 500-plus pages), sharing elements of his signature TV writing.
To reveal more would be to spoil all. Suffice to say that Sveistrup leads and wrong-foots us through numerous twists, turns, cliff-hangers and red herrings to an outcome which is as bold as it is explosive. As with The Killing which sprawled over twenty one-hour episodes yet didn’t lose momentum, The Chestnut Man comprises 500 pages but unfolds at a frenetic pace. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of crime novels suffered from padding, not least the characters’ umpteen breaks for coffee and sandwiches. In stark contrast, Sveistrup makes every page count.