Before there was Nordic Noir, there was Sven Elvestad.
It is an evening in early May when the quiet of Montrose Abbey is shattered by the sounds of shouting and broken glass. When the police arrive, they find the abbey library ransacked and bloodstained. Broken furniture and a burning carpet bear witness to a violent struggle. And the abbot himself, the scholarly Abbot Montrose, is missing. Only a torn fragment of his cassock remains, caught in the wrought-iron fence surrounding the abbey.
The police, the press, and citizens of this northern city fear the worst. What could have befallen the missing abbot? Has he been murdered? Abducted?
As world-renowned Detective Asbjørn Krag and his partner, Detective Sirius Keller, begin to unravel the tangled knot of clues left behind, they find themselves in the city’s infamous Krydder District, “where the dark doorways are as close together as rat holes in an old warehouse.” The more answers they find, the more questions seem to pop up.
This well-constructed, evocative and witty mystery by Sven Elvestead, also known as Stein Riverton (for whom the Norwegian Riverton Prize was named), will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Abbott Montrose is missing and there is blood in his residence. Officers 12 and 314 are first on the scene and suspect foul play. They had arrived at the residence very quickly after the whistled alert and saw someone running from the home. As they entered the living room they encountered many pieces of overturned or broken household furnishings and blood droplets on the floor. Money and other valuables are missing
Asbjorn Krag and Detective Keller are assigned to the case. Scraps of paper left that were clues to the possible perpetrator. One read of the payment of 30 kroner to a gardener for 6 days work, but the detectives immediately felt the gardener was not involved in the crime. A piece of the abbot’s vestment was found on the cast iron fence around his property and hinted to an apparent abduction.
The clues left at the crime scene led the two detectives to believe the thugs might be local. The investigation turned up more unsolved deaths and created various forks in the trail of investigation.
Confounding the investigation are clues that continue to preclude that the Abbot has indeed met his demise as he would have contacted his Bishop and others of his well being and whereabouts. A letter is found in the Abbots’ handwriting that affirms he is okay, but the letter is so crumpled and maltreated that the detectives are certain that he would not have treated a missive in this manner. Surely the Abbot wrote the letter under duress!
The detectives continue to suspect that the Abbot has met with foul play. Another unexplained death happens in the city and the resultant thinking is that indeed the Abbot has been injured or killed.
The detectives involved seem to have their case being solved on the backs of other murder victims. I began to question the ability of the two detectives to solve the crime or for that matter solve any crime! This is a slow burn Nordic Noir and the pace and apparent ineptitude of the detectives made it difficult to stay engaged. 3.5 stars – C.E. Williams
We received a complimentary review copy of this book through a request by the publisher that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five Stars
Genre: Historical Thrillers, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Kazabo Publishing
Print Length: 214 pages
Publication Date: August 24, 2018
Title Link: The Final Days of Abbot Montrose [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble
The Author: Sven Elvestad, aka Stein Riverton, was born in Fredrikshald, Norway, in 1884 and is the author of over 90 books. Jo Nesbø calls him “A great writer and the father of the Norwegian crime novel” and, even today, the Riverton Prize is awarded annually to the best Norwegian crime story. In addition to writing acclaimed mysteries, Sven Elvestad was one of the most famous Scandinavian journalists of the early 20th century. Well known for his exploits, he once spent an entire day locked in a lion’s cage and was the first foreign journalist to interview Hitler. –This text refers to the paperback edition.
[Goodreads] Sven Elvestad (1884 – 1934) was a Norwegian journalist and author. He is best known for his detective stories, which were published under the pen name Stein Riverton.
©2021 – CE Williams – V Williams