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Hard-boiled novel shows other side of Copenhagen

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Sara Blaedel's 'Farewell to Freedom'

Review

Sara Blaedel has been called “the queen of Danish crime fiction,” a title she proves she has earned in her third novel to be published in the United States.

In “Farewell to Freedom,” Blaedel uses the tenets of the hard-boiled novel to deliver a well-plotted, action tale about how war crimes and human trafficking have found a way to infect Denmark. Blaedel gracefully shows how the personal toll and effect of such crimes can reverberate for years. Blaedel enhances “Farewell to Freedom” by exploring a deep friendship between two women, one a police detective and the other a journalist, and how the two balance their personal and professional lives.

Police Detective Louise Rick almost doesn't answer a call from her journalist friend Camilla Lind because she assumes the reporter wants inside information on a young woman's murder.

But Camilla wants to report another crime — her 11-year-old son has found an abandoned baby on church steps. The little girl is fine and quickly placed with a good foster family as the police try to sort out who left the child. The case leads to an underground crime syndicate in which young women from Eastern Europe are forced into prostitution and their babies treated as collateral damage.

Louise follows the evidence while Camilla conducts a parallel investigation using her journalistic skills. The case leads to a mysterious criminal who makes a lucrative living from human misery. The story especially becomes personal for Camilla as she helps her son deal with the trauma of finding the infant. Camilla's growing relationship with Henrik Holm, a minister at whose church the child was found, adds to the story.

Blaedel infuses “Farewell to Freedom” with a solid look at her native country. The author depicts a Copenhagen that most tourists never see, a city constantly battling an influx of Eastern European gangsters without regard for human life. “Farewell to Freedom” also delivers an intriguing look at the efficiency of Danish police work and how internal politics and sexism are universal problems that cops, no matter their ethnicity, deal with.

Oline H. Cogdill is a staff writer for the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

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