THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT by Jakob Melander
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: binge-read
I just love when you pick up a book by an author who is totally new to you, and you instantly know that you've found something right up your alley. That's how I felt when I started THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT. Yet again, a Scandinavian crime author has crafted a story that totally fits my personal qualifications for a great crime read. THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT is energetic, addictive, and at times jaw-dropping—all in all, a wholly entertaining book that can be binge-read in place of binge-watching your favorite crime TV show.
THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT introduces the reader to Lars Winkler—former punk, possible drug addict, and committed Danish police officer. When the body of a young woman appears in a local park, Lars is assigned to the case, but a personal dispute with his superior quickly causes Lars to be reassigned. As more bodies appear, it becomes apparent that Lars' new assignment might be connected to the murders—and one of the perpetrators might be coming for his daughter.
This book was one of the lighter pieces of Scandinavian crime fiction that I've read, but I definitely don't consider that a bad thing. While you guys know how much I love the intensity and complexity of crime novels by authors like Jo Nesbø and Samuel Bjørk, there's also something to be said for a book that is fun, fast-paced crime fiction, pure and simple.
Melander achieves this and more. Don't get me wrong - when I say this book is fun, I mean fun in the way that a great episode of Criminal Minds is fun: it's dark, gory, and totally entertaining. THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT includes a few scenes that actually had me gasping out loud at the violence that Melander depicts within them. There are corpses, gunfights, and killers hidden in plain sight, and all of these elements ultimately collide for a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the story. If you're looking for a book to binge-read, this is it.
Also worth mentioning is the character of Lars Winkler. Lars is one of those fantastic, troubled detectives that I can't help but become attached to. He is moody, burdened, aggressive, and headstrong; he is also emotional, caring, and deeply committed to protecting his daughter. This book isn't as much about sleuthing and detailed investigative work as it is about showcasing Lars' ability to trust his gut and follow his intuition in the line of duty. If you're looking for a book that delves into the details of a police investigation, you might find this book lacking in that area. On the other hand, if you're looking for a book with thrills, chills, occasional flashbacks, and a major creep factor, you'll love THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT.
I, for one, found myself totally drawn into this story because of its character-driven plot. If you've read my reviews before, you'll know how much I love a great police procedural, but in a genre with so many investigation-centered stories, Jakob Melander's book stands out as a gripping, addictive read with a big heart.
Thank you to House of Anansi for sharing Jakob Melander's THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT with me! I can't wait to dive into its sequel, THE SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY, very soon.