Book Review: The Chestnut Man

THE CHESTNUT MAN | Soren Sveistrup
09.03.2019 | Harper
Rating: 5/5 stars


A serial killer is on the hunt in Copenhagen. Leaving behind a chestnut man as his calling card, the killer marks their presence at gruesome crime scenes. These tiny dolls made from matchsticks and two chestnuts could hold the key to a much older disappearance. A lone fingerprint rests at the bottom of each doll belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter, who was kidnapped a year earlier. The girl was believed to have been murdered, but her body was never found.

Detective Thulin has been paired with Hess, a detective recently suspended from Europol, to find out who is behind these killings. Who is the Chestnut Man and where will he strike next?

The voice is everywhere in the darkness. It whispers softly and mocks her – it picks her up when she falls and it whirls her around in the wind.

I’m keeping my synopsis short and sparse for THE CHESTNUT MAN because I think it’s best to go into this book fairly blind. I say fairly because I know for most it will be hard to agree to read a 500+ page book without a hint of what is going to happen. I urge you to trust me on this one and pick up a copy of THE CHESTNUT MAN quickly!

Last year this book hit shelves in the UK and I was mesmerized by all of the fantastic reviews bloggers were putting out. It was in my cart to order from Book Depository several times. When I heard it was finally coming to the US I knew I needed to beg, plead, and cry for a copy. The book gods answered and I was not once disappointed while reading this beast!

Chestnut man, do come in. Chestnut man, do come in. Have you any chestnuts that you’ve brought for me today? Thank you kindly, won’t you stay…

Sveistrup chooses to open THE CHESTNUT MAN with a compelling and gruesome event from the past. The reader instantly knows that this event is somehow tied to the crimes that are happening in present day, but the link is puzzling. Each victim and crime scene, as well as the detective’s moves are methodically plotted out for the reader. There isn’t one bit of information given that doesn’t play a part in making this book work. That being said, the pacing isn’t breakneck for a book being marketed as a thriller. It is however true to its roots as a book I would classify as Nordic Noir.

Helping to keep the plot continuously moving along are the main detective duo of Thulin and Hess. These two are an odd couple match-up. They have completely different backgrounds and different ambitions, but at the end of the day they both want to do what is best for the victims. I loved how they each shined individually, as well as working together.

THE CHESTNUT MAN is dark, twisted, gritty, and intensely atmospheric. Your attention will be grabbed from the opening pages and you’ll find yourself up late into the night chasing a serial killer. You’ll be guessing at every possible motive and suspect only to be swept away in an ending made for TV. This book isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s perfect for diehard crime fiction and Nordic Noir fans who enjoy intricate and complex police procedural stories.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon Book Depository

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Harper for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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