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The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Søren Sveistrup, on your first book!

by Søren Sveistrup
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Quick take

This slow-burn Danish detective thriller follows a truly gory killer. Squeamish stomachs: You've been warned.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_GraphicViolence

    Graphic violence


A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

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Why I love it

Calling all fans of Nordic Noir! Do twisted plots, gritty atmosphere and detailed police procedures make your thriller-loving heart race? Do you live for stories that have a violent serial killer on the loose, reading them late into the night with all the lights on, electric bill be damned? Then do I have the book for you!! The Chestnut Man delivers all this and more—complete with a creepy children’s song and a tenacious female detective who will stop at nothing to catch the killer.

The book opens with a scene that is not for the faint of heart (our madman favors axes and saws) and a police force utterly baffled at the latest in a series of murders, with nothing but a handmade chestnut man bearing fingerprints of an unrelated missing girl for a clue. Desperate to avoid a scandal (the missing girl’s mother also happens to be a prominent government official), the detectives work around the clock to solve the case ... before the murderer strikes again.

Red herrings abound in this gruesome whodunit, which allows the Chestnut Man to stay one step ahead of the law. The book begins slowly, but by the end I found that I had yelled, “RUN,” several times as I read alone in my living room. With an ending that begs for a sequel and a plot that will have you checking the locks on your doors, this is the perfect fall read for thriller fans who delight in the dark world of the macabre.

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