Recommended Reading for Summer: Gretelise Holm

I read three of the Danish author Gretelise Holm’s crime novels about Karin Sommer during our honeymoon. Somehow I missed the order and had already read the fourth one. If you have any free days this summer I recommend all of them, but do not do what I did, read them in the right order instead.


In Paranoia we get to know the journalist Karin Sommer. She is working on an article about a family tragedy where the husband has killed his wife and children. At the same time someone is trying to kill her. Karin who has struggled with mental issues in the past is starting to wonder if she is imagining it. Is she paranoid? Or is she actually dealing with a psychopath?

Gretelise Holm seems interested in psychology (but I guess all crime writers are) and she brings up the fact that psychopaths are overrepresented among people with power. She uses that information to create a really suspenseful story.

The Survivor Murders* (Original title: Robinsonmordene)

Karin is on a small island in Denmark to write a few articles, but mainly to work on a book about witch hunts. When several old people die within a short time at the nursing home in the village no eyebrows are raised. The fact that old people die is not strange. But when an old lady claims that one of the deceased has been voted out by the island council like on the TV show “Survivor” an investigation is started. But is that the start of a modern witch hunt?

It feels like the murder mystery is on the back burner and the story about life in a small island village in Denmark is in focus. But that is ok with me, and as lazy reading on a summer day the book is perfect.

War Children* (Original title: Under fuld bedøvelse)

In this novel someone is willing to pay $500,000 to have Karin Sommer killed. No one, neither Karin, the police nor the hired assassin, understand why. Like in many other crime novels the answer traces back to the past, in this case World War II. The novel has a serious side, where xenophobia is addressed and Denmark’s involvement in the Iraq war is questioned.

It is a really good story, with an interesting twist. It is always nice when it is all tied together in the end.

Countdown to Murder* (Original title: Nedtælling til mord)

The Danish Minister of Integration is shot to death during a run. Karin, who is close to retiring, is sent to Lithuania for an article. By chance, she stumbles on information about criminals in Copenhagen, corruption and prostitution. We get to learn about Danish politics and immigration issues. But how is it all connected?

There are quite a few improbable coincidences in this book, and I think it is the weakest one in the series. But it is so easy to read that you may as well read this one as well when you are at it…


* Direct translation, I do not know the real titles in English

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