THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS by Sara Blaedel
Grand Central; 10/23/18
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: Perfect fall mystery reading
Looking for a crime fiction series perfect for fall weekend reading? Danish crime writer Sara Blaedel’s Louise Rick books belong on your list. When I picture the kind of book I want to be reading on a crisp autumn evening, it’s a book exactly like Blaedel’s: something atmospheric, layered, immersive, and perfect for cozying up with when the weather gets cold. If this sounds up your alley, add Blaedel’s THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS to your TBR. Technically the first book in Blaedel’s internationally-bestselling series, THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS is now being made available to US readers in a brand-new edition from Grand Central—and it will work for both newcomers to Blaedel’s work and established fans of the series. (For more information on series order, click here.) In THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS, homicide detective Louise Rick is tasked with solving the brutal murder of a young woman in her hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark… but when her best friend, journalist Camilla Lind, asks her to investigate the murder of a local journalist as well, Louise finds herself in over her head - and in the crosshairs of two killers. THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS is the book that launched Blaedel’s internationally-bestselling Louise Rick series around the world—and American readers will fall in love with Blaedel’s endearing and headstrong detective in this compelling mystery.
A young woman is found strangled in a park, and a male journalist has been killed in the backyard of the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.
Detective Louise Rick is put on the case of the young girl, but very soon becomes entangled in solving the other homicide too when it turns out her best friend, journalist Camilla Lind, knew the murdered man. Louise tries to keep her friend from getting too involved, but Camilla's never been one to miss out on an interesting story. And this time, Camilla may have gone too far...
Emotionally riveting and filled with unexpected twists, THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS is a tour-de-force from international phenomenon Sara Blaedel.
If there’s one thing Sara Blaedel knows, it’s how to tell a great crime story. I’ve long considered her Louise Rick series a perfect “starter series” for readers interested in exploring Scandinavian crime fiction for the first time—and my experience reading THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS further reinforces this opinion. Blaedel’s Louise Rick books are defined by their relatable and endearing characters, their thoroughly-researched plots, and their detail-oriented depictions of police investigations. While the Louise Rick books are most definitely crime novels, they are not gratuitously violent or excessively dark; the warmth and humanity of Blaedel’s characters balance out the grim crimes central to these stories, and the end result is an approachable, binge-able crime series that will serve to entice genre newcomers to further explore Nordic Noir. Case in point: I first read Blaedel’s Louise Rick books when I was just a newcomer to the genre myself… and years later, I still credit them with whetting my growing appetite for all things Scandinavian crime.
In THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS, series protagonist Louise Rick tackles not one but two murders in her (otherwise quite idyllic!) city of Copenhagen, Denmark. The murder of a young woman sparks an investigation into the personal life of the victim; meanwhile, the discovery of the body of a local journalist captures media interest as a desperate investigation to catch a killer unfolds. Woven throughout both storylines is Blaedel’s impeccable commitment to research. It won’t take long for readers to recognize just how much effort Blaedel puts into getting the fundamental facts of her novels right. In her debut THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS, Blaedel takes readers into the nitty-gritty of autopsies, forensic science, police procedures, and more. Through these details, Blaedel keeps her writing grounded in reality—and she also avoids genre stereotypes or cliches in the process. While THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS is, of course, a work of fiction, readers will never feel that this story gets carried away by melodrama or unnecessary “fluff”; Blaedel keeps this mystery solidly rooted in what is real. Her writing is spare and to-the-point, giving readers the facts necessary to solve the crime alongside Louise without overshadowing the story’s central mystery with unnecessary bells and whistles. Readers who appreciate a sense of authenticity in their crime fiction will find THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS hugely appealing.
Speaking of authenticity - the shining stars of Blaedel’s Louise Rick series are her characters. Louise Rick and Camilla Lind, the two female protagonists central to the series, are the kinds of characters you wish you could befriend in real life—and for me personally, digging into THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS really did feel like a reunion with old friends. In THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS, readers meet these two women at a moment when their careers intersect: Louise is a detective, and Camilla is a crime reporter whose colleague was just found dead under suspicious circumstances. Camilla, a driven and sometimes volatile individual, pushes her friend Louise to look into the case. Louise, on the other hand, is a bit more reserved; she promises to do what she can for Camilla, but she is, as always, keenly aware of the bureaucratic rules and restrictions placed on her. Readers who have already devoured the later books in the Louise Rick series will be fascinated to see just how at odds Camilla and Louise find themselves in THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS—but, at the end of the day, they will recognize between the two women the kind of close bond that defines their relationship throughout the series. By pairing the determined yet level-headed Louise with the equally-determined yet somewhat impetuous Camilla, Blaedel crafts the kind of realistic and complicated friendship that readers will find resonant and true to relationships in the real world. These women aren’t picture-perfect, and their friendship has its ups and downs, but there’s something so compelling about a series that is, at its core, all about two women supporting each other through life. (Bonus points that they are solving crimes while doing so!)
Fans of Nordic Noir - or readers looking to dip their toes in the genre for the first time - will love Blaedel’s very first Louise Rick novel, now being released in a brand-new edition for American readers. Reading this book in many ways felt like a homecoming for me as a reader: my discovery of the Louise Rick series was one of the key steps along the way to creating Crime by the Book, and re-entering Louise’s world with THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS was a nostalgic and just plain fun experience. It’s entirely to Blaedel’s credit that the Louise Rick series gets increasingly complex and mature as it goes on, but readers will be thrilled to discover that even Blaedel’s debut novel shines with the kind of humanity and realism that make all her books such compelling reads. Blaedel’s books always elicit a cozy, content feeling in this reader, and THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS is no exeption—these are the kinds of mysteries chilly fall afternoons were made for.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions my own.
Series: Louise Rick series
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 23, 2018)
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