Scandinavian authors have created some of the most damaged protagonists in crime thrillers over the last few decades. Characters enduring psychological wounds, physiological scars and dark thoughts, leave you wondering how they could possibly solve the cases they embark on but they inevitably do. The main character in Scatter Her Ashes is Thorkild Aske, and he is the most broken and raw one of them all, deeply troubled after the death of his wife in a car accident, that also left him permanently injured and scarred. Believability is always stretched playing to this trope but this one is tooooo much. When Aske isn’t popping pills, drinking, getting run over by a car (twice), getting beaten near to death, is deranged, suicidal, has sex with every woman he meets, he’s solving multiple criminal cases and flying in and out of high-security facilities in Russia like its next door.
Aske is hired by author Milla Lind to help with some investigative research for her latest book. An opening that has occurred because the previous investigator, Robert, was apparently shot dead by his mentally unbalanced wife. The area of research Milla has Thorkild looking into, is with two missing teenagers and we soon discover that Milla had a daughter which she gave up at birth but is now intent on tracking her down. Who do you think one of the teenagers is? The recent findings of additional murdered couples seem to attract a particular interest with Aske and the plot suddenly becomes very complicated.
I do enjoy the bleak noir setting very typical of Scandinavian thrillers and this story provides that atmosphere quite vividly. The pace is good and there were many moments where I’d hoped the story was coming together nicely only to be thwarted by another implausible plot hole. There are other twists and multiple subplots that I’ll avoid saying anything about and there is always suspicion with the other characters and the motives they have to be assisting Milla and Thorkild.
I read this book as a buddy read with my wonderful friend Beata. She was the light in the whole experience, and I imagine it would have been a DNF if we had been on our own. I would like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.