Review Blog

Oct 31 2019

The girl without skin by Mads Peder Nordbo

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Greenland book 1. Translated by Charlotte Barslund. Text, 2019. ISBN: 9781925603835.
(Age: Adult) Recommended for lovers of Nordic noir. Themes: Mystery, Child abuse, Murder, Greenland. Not for the faint hearted The girl without skin takes the reader on a difficult but compelling journey tracing a modern murder and one committed decades before. Matt Cave is a journalist sent to cover the story of a mummified body found in a crevasse on the edge of the ice. When the mummy disappears and the policeman who was guarding it is found naked and flayed, Matt begins to investigate. He uncovers a cover-up when he meets Tupaarnaq, a young woman who had been convicted of killing her parents and two sisters.
Tupaarnaq is a particularly interesting character and the descriptions of the tattoos that covered her body (hence the girl with no skin) are vivid. Prison has not subdued her - she is strong and determined. Matt Cave too, doesn't feel he has anything to lose after the death of his wife and unborn daughter, so is prepared to investigate where others have been loath to go.
This is not a cosy murder mystery. It is extremely dark and intense. The murders are particularly gruesome and the themes of child abuse, subversion of power and cover-ups are very difficult to read about. However, such was the power of Nordbo's writing that I found that I had to continue reading to find out all the links between the current murder and the similar ones in the past. On completion of the book, I was compelled to Google the places it was set in and found that child abuse was rife in Greenland, so much of the darkness of the story is based in actual fact.
Definitely one for adults, and one for readers who can stomach dark themes.
Pat Pledger

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