New & notable book: Emelie Schepp’s ‘Marked for Life’

Marked for Life by author Emelie Schepp.
Marked for Life by author Emelie Schepp.

Move over, Jo Nesbo. Swedish author Emelie Schepp, already an international bestseller, expands her Nordic noir domain with her U.S. debut. Marked for Life is the first in a trilogy of crime fiction that features public prosecutor Jana Berzelius.

Scandinavia is the perfect setting for a dark mystery, which explains the genre’s popularity, Schepp says.

“I think it is hard to pinpoint one factor,” she says in press materials. “Perhaps it is the cold, dark climate, where doors are bolted and curtains are drawn, that provides a perfect setting for crime writing. The winter is long, the nights are dark and the people are brought up to hold their secrets.

“I have spoken to many other authors, and we all share an obsession with understanding why people become murderers in the first place. We are all trying to find out their secrets — behind closed doors anything can happen.”

Schepp’s protagonist is icy, methodical, ambitious and following in her famous father’s footsteps. When the head of the migration board is murdered — shot in his living room — Jana gets the assignment.

There are plenty of suspects, along with a surprising child-sized handprint in the house (the couple had no children). The body of a young boy is found, with the murder weapon beside him, and letters carved into his body — a sure sign he was a victim of child trafficking.

This opens dark, repressed childhood wounds for Jana as her investigation gets personal.

Marked for Revenge, scheduled for March 2017, will be the second novel in the trilogy, and Schepp is at work on the third.

Celeste Williams

Marked for Life

  • By Emelie Schepp
  • MIRA Books, $26.99
  • Audio: Harlequin Audio, $39.99; narrated by Dallas-born actress Christine Lakin.