The Drowned Girl

The body of a teenage girl has been found tied to a slab of concrete and floating in a bay near Holbaek, and Detective Louise Rick, an ace at the Copenhagen Police Department, has been poached to work the case. The police go to the press with a missing person report, which elicits a teacher's confirmation that the dead girl is her student, 15-year-old Samra al-Abd. She was one of four kids in a Jordanian immigrant family whose patriarch has a history of violence against Samra and her mother. Rick, who has previously worked a case that involved an honor killing, finds herself going along with her colleagues' inclination to view this as another one.

Rick's journalist best friend Camilla Lind, however, is pushing back against her editor's acceptance of the honor killing angle. Rick and Lind will be familiar to readers of the previous books in the celebrated Danish crime writer Sara Blaedel's Homicide Trilogy, and their respective romantic lives get some ink here. The Drowned Girl (first published in the United States in 2012 as Only One Life) is a hard-nosed thriller with a soft spot for big questions: Is it necessarily culturally insensitive to challenge an ethnic group's sexist traditions? And is the expectation of partial assimilation that's placed on young Muslim immigrants, especially girls, unreasonable? As Rick thinks at one point, "There was an ominous demand that girls had to adapt, but only to a certain extent; otherwise all hell would break loose." In The Drowned Girl, all hell does. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

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