FATAL CROSSING by Lone Theils, Review: Feisty heroine

Lone Theils’ Fatal Crossing is a page-turner with real grit, substance and a fantastic heroine. Read my full review.

Fatal Crossing Lone TheilsFatal Crossing Book Synopsis

When a picture of two Danish girls who disappeared on a boat bound for England in 1985 surfaces in an old suitcase, journalist Nora Sand’s professional curiosity is immediately awakened.

Before she knows it, she is mixed up in the case of a serial killer serving a life sentence in a notorious prison. The quest to discover the truth about the missing girls may be more dangerous that she had ever imagined…

The first book in the Nora Sands series, her Danish crime debut, has already sold more than 10,000 copies and featured prominently in the Danish bestseller charts.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime-Detective, Romance, Translation

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Fatal Crossing (originally achieving bestselling status in Danish as Pigerne fra Englandsbåden) is Lone Theils debut novel and the first in a planned series starring journalist Nora Sands.

They say authors should ‘write what they know’ and Lone Theils has certainly done that to great effect in Fatal Crossing. Nora Sands is living in London working as a correspondent for a national Danish newspaper, just as Theils once did. The authentically drawn expatriate experience, and the contrasting political and cultural settings of the United Kingdom and Denmark add extra depth and layering to this story. And it was lovely to even see Australian culture represented:

… Call me if you need to talk. George isn’t known for being chatty,’ Nora said.

Pete flashed a droll grin. ‘That’s the understatement of the century. Typical Australian. Understatement promotes understanding. Silence cements it.’

Nora Sands is an intelligent and feisty female lead I connected with immediately. She’s passionate about her work, a loyal friend and endearingly inept at romantic entanglements.

Inspired by a true crime

The crime at the heart of the investigation Nora becomes embroiled in was actually inspired by a true story, where some pictures of unknown girls, taken at Copenhagen’s Central Station, mysteriously appeared in the hands of an American serial killer.

Something about the picture from the car deck kept troubling her; it evoked the sadness you feel when looking at old photographs of soldiers, grinning young men who thought they were immortal, but today exist only as letters carved on a mossy war memorial in Normandy.

She tried to shake off the sense of tragedy. By now the two girls had probably been married and divorced several times over, and forgotten about a ferry crossing made decades ago.

Theils hasn’t just developed characters but credible personalities in her ensemble cast, and the writing style is resonant and perceptive while still economical. Her no-nonsense narrative and skilful pacing of Nora’s investigative (and emotional) journey had me enthralled.

And translator Charlotte Barslund is clearly a master of her craft. Had I read this novel without knowledge of its authorship, I would never have guessed it was a translation.

Lone Theils Fatal Crossing is a page-turner with real grit and substance. Sign me up to the Nora Sands fan club.

The second book in the Nora Sands series The Blue Poet’s Wife ( Den blå digters kone ) has recently been published in Denmark. I cannot wait to read the English translation!

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

Get your copy of Fatal Crossing from:

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About the Author, Lone Theils

Lone Theils lived in London where she worked as a correspondent for the national Danish newspaper Politiken and also did work for television stations on a regular basis. In 2016 Lone moved to Denmark where she now works as a full-time author. She has covered conflicts in Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

About the Translator, Charlotte Barslund

Charlotte Barslund was born in Denmark and has lived in the UK since 1984. She has translated novels by Peter Adolphsen, Karin Fossum, Per Petterson, Carsten Jensen, Sissel-Jo Gazan, Thomas Enger, and Mikkel Birkegaard, as well as a wide range of classic and contemporary plays.

Other reviews of Fatal Crossing

“A strong, determined, feisty female protagonist, the crimes credible, heinous, prevalent and feature in our news headlines far too often and a fabulous twist or two that will surprise the most hardened crime fiction reader.” — Reading Writing & Riesling

“An accomplished and exciting crime novel” — EuroCrime

* My receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.