2012 Book 127: ONLY ONE LIFE Review

Only One Life by Sara Blaedel
ISBN: 9781605983509
ISBN: 9781453249321 (ebook)
ASIN: B008AUC93I (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: July 1, 2012
Publisher: Pegasus Books

It was clearly no ordinary drowning. Inspector Louise Rick is immediately called out to Holbraek Fjord when a young immigrant girl is found in the watery depths, a piece of concrete tied around her waist and two mysterious circular patches on the back of her neck.

Her name was Samra, and Louise soon learns that her short life was a sad story. Her father had already been charged once with assaulting her and her mother, Sada, who makes it clear that her husband would indeed be capable of killing Samra if she brought dishonor to the family. But she maintains that Samra hadn’t done anything dishonorable. Then why was she supposed to be sent back to Jordan? Samra’s best friend Dicte thinks it was an honor killing. A few days later Dicte is discovered, bludgeoned to death, and Samra’s younger sister has gone missing.

Navigating the complex web of family and community ties in Copenhagen’s tightly knit ethnic communities, Louise must find this remorseless predator, or predators, before it is too late.

Louise Rick has been reassigned to the Unit One Mobile Task Force, an elite division of the National Police force, to investigate the murder of Samra Al-Abd. This reassignment requires her to temporarily relocate to Holbaek where the body was found. Louise has the opportunity to reconnect with a former partner, Soren Velis, and meet new officers including Mik Rasmussen, her new partner for this case. The investigation reveals that the Al-Abd family has had problems, with the mother and children briefly leaving the family home for a shelter. The facts are that the family is an immigrant family, Muslim and there is a past history of abuse quickly lead everyone to presume that this murder was a so-called honor killing. After interviewing Samra’s closest friend, Dicte Moller, Louise learns more about Samra’s life and the more she learns the more confusing the case becomes. 

Louise’s journalist friend, Camilla Lind, makes a return and also goes to Holbaek. She quickly befriends Sada Al-Abd and actually makes an effort to understand the cultural differences between the Al-Abd family and traditional Danish values. After an article that all but blames Sada for her daughter’s murder, Camilla quickly does research that shows that Muslim families aren’t that different from other strict religious Danish family, something no one wants to admit to or even hear – especially her editor.

After a few weeks and no new information Dicte is found dead, another murder. The police quickly arrest Samra’s father and brother for both murders. But there’s something that just doesn’t ring true to Louise about the arrests. The more she investigates Dicte’s murder the more she begins to realize things may not always be as they appear. Just when it looks like the community is going to be torn apart as a result of the deaths of these two teenage girls and the apparent ties to the immigrant community, the youngest Al-Abd daughter disappears. Will the police be able to find the truth before it’s too late?

Ms. Blaedel has once again crafted a story that pulls the reader in from the very beginning with Only One Life. The primary cast of characters, Louise Rick and her journalist friend Camilla Lind, are investigating another gruesome murder. Both Louise and Camilla’s personal lives are deftly interwoven into the story and provides more insight into what makes these women who they are. Ms. Blaedel doesn’t sugarcoat the preconceived prejudices against ethnic groups but makes it the focus of the investigation. Louise and the police immediately presume the murder of Samra is an honor killing, a completely foreign concept, and focus their investigation on obtaining proof that the family was involved. Although Camilla initially presumes that the family may be involved, the more she learns about the family and their values the more she realizes that the concept of shunning due to religious beliefs isn’t as foreign as initially presumed. 

Originally published in 2007, Only One Life made its US debut earlier this year. This is the third book in the Louise Rick series, but only the second published in the US. If you enjoyed Call Me Princess by Ms. Blaedel, you don’t want to miss out on reading Only One Life. I actually found it somewhat difficult to write a review of Only One Life. This was because there was so much I enjoyed about the story that I found it difficult to pick only a few things to highlight. I found Only One Life to be such a riveting read that I completed it in one sitting for my first read, and I savored it over a few days on my second read. If you enjoy crime thrillers then this is one book you want to add to your to-be-read list. 

More good news is that the fourth book in this series, Farewell to Freedom, has just been released and Blue Blood, the second book in the Louise Rick series, is scheduled for release in February 2013. I’ve already added them both to my to-be-read list and can’t wait to read them.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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