Danish author S. J. Gazan established herself as an international talent to watch with her debut thriller novel, The Dinosaur Feather. In addition to being named Crime Novel of the Decade by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, NPR's Maureen Corrigan called it her favorite mystery of 2013, and The Wall Street Journal's Tom Nolan placed it in his year-end top 10 list.
Now Gazan's much-anticipated follow-up is here, bringing back maverick policeman Soren Marhauge. In The Arc of the Swallow, a perilous investigation reveals a profit-motivated conspiracy involving the upper reaches of Big Pharma, government, and academia.
Biology PhD candidate Marie Skov is devastated when, on the same day as her mother's death, her mentor, Kristian Storm, apparently kills himself. Storm had been facing academic dishonesty charges as well as heated criticism of his research on a vaccine for African children - that suggested the vaccine was causing more harm than it was preventing.
Skov is skeptical that the death was a suicide. She knows Storm's research on the vaccine was sound and learns that his on-site work in Guinea-Bissau was marred by intimidation, sabotaged data, and the suspicious death of another scientist. She also learns that in his final days, Storm felt he was being followed by a blue Ford with tinted windows.
Soon afterward, a blue Ford with tinted windows parks across from Skov's home. The police have no interest in reexamining the official narrative. But Marhauge shares Skov's desire for answers and defies his superiors to help her investigate. They receive unlikely help from a Nobel Prize-winning rival of Storm's and find themselves on a perilous trail that leads to Big Pharma and the World Health Organization.
Interwoven in this thrilling storyline are deeply moving portraits of Skov's troubled family and Marhauge's tenuous relationship with his girlfriend, another biologist. The result is a complex pause resister that establishes S. J. Gazan (herself a biologist) as a world-class author at the beginning of a formidable career.
"A fast-paced story line involving the World Health Organization, the Nobel Prize committee, and the cutthroat world of academia. From Denmark to West Africa, Gazan takes readers on a roller-coaster ride.... Less graphic than Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy but just as compelling, Gazan's novel breathes fresh life into the packed Scandinavian mystery genre." (Library Journal)
"Sissel-Jo Gazan once again demonstrates the careful composition and genre skill that is needed to create a crime novel with more to offer.... It has taken her five years to get there, and she scores highly on all the components that an entertaining and challenging crime novel should contain." [Politiken (Denmark)]
"The author writes elegantly and with obvious warm insight into her fellow human beings. A family chronicle that evolves into a scientific thriller, and it goes down like ice cream on a hot summer's day." [Antennen (Denmark)]
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A very good one
- Donna Seidel