Thursday, 22 September 2011

Death Sentence Review

Death Sentence
-       Mikkel Birkegaard
Publisher: UK - Bantam
Frank Føns is a very successful crime writer. His novels, famed for their visceral descriptions of violent death, have made him a household name. But now someone is copying his crimes. For Frank what once seemed a clever, intriguing plot twist, has suddenly become a terrifying, blood-spattered reality.In the novel, a redhead who was scared of water is drowned. In the mirror-image of the real world, she has become an ex-girlfriend chained and left to die at the bottom of the harbour. A corrupt police-officer tortured to death becomes a contact who dies with fear in his eyes. Someone is taking Franks’ fiction and using it to destroy his life. The writer must become the detective.In fiction, the bad guy always gets caught, but in real life there is no such guarantee. Fear becomes real. The knife cut hurts like hell. Our narrator may not survive. No-one is promising you a happy ending. For Frank what had once been a game is now a matter of life and death.
Frank is an alcoholic, writer of horror novels which specialise in extreme torture and gory scenes. He makes a living from it even if it has cost him his family and turned him into an isolated man with little human contact. Then someone starts to recreate his graphic murder scenes in complete detail using people close to him as the victim...
Frank is a difficult person to like. At first I just thought he was lonely and isolated but as I read further and find out more about his past I have to confess that I just didn’t like him very much. But I was fascinated by his story. The way he is drawn into the murders is well done – even if you think he should have gone to police straight away. There aren’t many characters introduced in detail outside of Frank himself, but this is more the study of the man losing his grasp than a crime novel. Crimes do occur but it is Franks reactions that keep you glued to the page rather than the mystery of who did it.
The details of Frank’s books are gruesome and for the most part lacking in glamour. The detail is needed for the story but not lingered over – something I was grateful for as that level of detail would have turned me off! However, some of the scenes are not for those with a weak stomach. Alcohol, drug use and sex is prominent throughout but in keeping with the characters and the story.
The writing is easy to slip into – the translation from the Danish seems flawless. The ending will frustrate some people but I enjoyed the ambiguity. I hadn’t read a crime or mystery book for a long time and now I realise I’ve been missing out on a genre a really enjoy. I won’t be leaving it so long before I pick up another mystery. J
Recommended for fans of Steig Larsson and Jo Nesbo. 8 out of 10.


  1. Not for me ;) I do fear this genre will never win me over

  2. I enjoy ambiguity as long as it is purposeful! ;)This one does make me curious and I also know someone who would love this one. Thanks for the review!

  3. Oooh may be too gruesome for me though the premise sounds interesting.

  4. Oh it sounds interesting, I'm curious about it ! Your review makes me want to read it. An author, crimes, when there is a good plot, it always fun. Thanks for the review !