Category Archives: The Chestnut Man

Review: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

Title: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 521 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss




The heart-pounding debut from the creator of the hit Scandinavian television show The Killing.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.


The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup is a spine-tingling, chilling murder mystery.

Copenhagen Detective Naia Thulin is hoping to leave the murder squad for the cybercrime center. Before she can convince her boss, Head of Major Crimes Nylander, to recommend her for the transfer, she is saddled with disgraced Europol Agent Mark Hess. They are both assigned to investigate the horrific murder of single mother, Laura Kjgear. There are many troubling (and gruesome) aspects to her murder but it is the discovery of a chestnut man at the scene that is most puzzling. Thulin is convinced Laura’s fiancé Jans Henrick Hauge killed her, but Hess has his doubts he is their killer.  His suspicions are confirmed when Anne Sejer-Larsen is murdered and once again, her body is mutilated and a chestnut man is left at the scene.

Their investigation takes a very troubling turn when forensic specialist Simon Genz makes a stunning discovery. One year earlier, Minister of Social Affairs Rosa Hartung’s twelve year old daughter Kristine is kidnapped on her way home. Although her body has never been recovered, Linus Bekker confessed to her murder and is now serving his sentence at a psychiatric hospital. The current murders coincide with Rosa’s return to work but Nylander orders Thulin and Ness to stay away from Hartung. Thulin is shocked when Genz informs her Kristine’s fingerprint is on the chestnut dolls.  But when another grisly murder occurs and Kristine’s fingerprint is once again found on the chestnut doll, will Nylander have any choice but to allow Naia and Mark  to turn their attention to Rosa?

Thulin and Hess are excellent investigators but neither of them is particularly likable. Naia is incredibly impatient and she is abrupt with colleagues,  witnesses and suspects. She is eager to solve the case so she can move on to the next phase of her career.  Mark wants nothing more than to return to the Europol and he is distracted during the initial stages of the investigation.  He is also a big of a rogue loner who follows his instincts as he tracks down leads on his own.

The investigation moves in fits and starts since other than the fingerprints on the chestnut dolls, there is little forensic evidence. Nylander is not very supportive of Hess and Thulin’s theories which leaves them at cross purposes for much of the investigation.  Neither Naia nor Mark is well liked by their fellow detectives so they often have to fight to pursue the various avenues of inquiry. And just as they are on the brink of making a breakthrough, the case takes a shocking turn.

The Chestnut Man is a dark and gritty mystery that is suspenseful and quite riveting. The murders are chilling and become increasingly grisly with each new victim.  With a series of clever misdirects and ingenious red herrings,  Søren Sveistrup brings this incredibly complex and thrilling debut to a pulse-pounding, action packed conclusion.

An incredibly diabolical police procedural that will leave readers hoping a sequel is in the works.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harper, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Søren Sveistrup, Suspense, The Chestnut Man