Marked For Life by Emelie Schepp
WINNER OF THE SPECSAVERS READERS CHOICE AWARD 2016
In Lindö, on the Swedish coast, a man has been found brutally murdered in his own home.
The victim, Hans Juhlén, had no shortage of enemies. But the case stalls when a child’s handprint is found inches from where the dead man fell.
Hans Juhlén had no children.
Public prosecutor Jana Berzelius has perfected the art of maintaining a professional distance from her cases. But when the body of a small boy is found – and with him, the weapon that killed Juhlén – Jana’s impenetrability is tested to its limits.
The small body is a bleak reminder that Jana has her own secrets to hide. And if she is to keep them safe, she must find the perpetrator behind these crimes…before the police do.
The novel opens with an emergency call from Krestin Juhlen describing finding her husband, dead! The scene is quite disturbing as no-one has any clear idea of what has occurred and how. Detective Chief Inspector Henrik Lavin and Detective Inspector Mia Bolander are baffled to what has taken place. Then they find a child’s handprint, on a glass window…….
The victim is Hans Juhlen, whom holds the most senior position within Sweden’s local asylum/migration department. The department has recently been hit with financial scandals and therefore Hans was under pressure from both his workplace and the media. However when the police discover some meanacing letters sent to Hans
“pay now or risk paying the bigger price”
The police begin to look into the blackmail angle. But who would blackmail Hans and why? Through interviews with his wife and PA Lena, it becomes apparent Hans is very much a Jekyll and Hyde type character. What he wishes to portray on the service, is not the same character behind closed doors…….
With further Forensic investigation of the scene and CCTV, we discover the most likely suspect, also appears to be only approximately 8 years old and when that same suspect is found murdered. The case takes an unusual turn. The body of the young boys, shows clear signs of significant trauma all over his body, for a long period of time. Did Hans have ulterior motives for his work at the asylum/migration department? How do they tie to the dead young boy?
The interviews with Han’s wife continue and they discover 40 thousand Kroner being withdrawn a month and a computer littered with cryptic codes. What was Hans hiding?
Public prosecutor Jana Berzelius, has taken a keen interest in the investigation, which is unusual in the Swedish criminal system. But when the code VPXO410009 resembles a code from her past, she is determined to find answers, even if she must investigate on her own. Jana bears a similar scar to the dead young boy and when the coincidences continue, she decides she must solve the link between the traumatised young boy and her own dark past.
Emelie schepp is an incredibly successful author in Sweden and I can easily see why, this novel has you constantly guessing and the twists are of epic proportion. Highly recommend 4*
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) After working as a project manager in the advertising industry for ten years, I came to a point where I was tired of the profession, I wanted to do something different and I wanted to write. I had written a number of articles but when you write articles you only have a limited space and I dreamed of having the freedom to write as many words as I wanted.
So, I decided to write a book. I have always loved reading suspense and so once I really thought about it, there was never a question for me about what genre I would choose. I knew straightaway that I wanted to write crime fiction. I began the storytelling process with only a tiny understanding of where to even begin. But thanks to all the years of reading I did manage the process well.
Since I still worked fulltime, I had to make time for writing at night. Every evening at 8 PM I sat down in front of my computer and wrote. I started in May 2012 and in September the very same year I held the first draft in my hand. I then sent it away to the biggest publishing houses in Sweden and waited for them to get back to me.
It took only two weeks before I received a rejection letter. I waited six more months for the other publishers to get back to me, but they didn´t. So, I got tired of waiting, called them up and told them to withdraw my submission because I would be publishing my novel on my own. I did, and even today I am the most successful self-publisher in Sweden.
In 2012 there was a huge debate about child soldiers after the movie “Kony 2012” went viral. The movie was about Joseph R. Kony who is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) a guerilla group that formerly operated in Uganda, who was accused of ordering the abduction of children to become child soldiers. This was my first inspiration but I then had to think about where these children would come from in Sweden, and how would their abduction go unnoticed? Then a news story of an overturned container on a Swedish highway, full of refugees unregistered at the border, gave me the answer.
In MARKED FOR LIFE a man has been found brutally murdered in his own home. The victim, Hans Juhlen, had no shortage of enemies. But the case stalls when a child’s handprint is found inches from where the dead man fell. Hans Juhlen had no children. Public prosecutor Jana Berzelius has perfected the art of maintaining a professional distance from her cases. But when the body of a small boy is found – and with him, the weapon that killed Juhlen – Jana’s impenetrability is tested to its limits. Berzelius is drawn more deeply into the case for as she attends his autopsy, she recognizes something strangely familiar in his small, scarred, heroin-riddled body. Cut deep into his flesh are initials that scream child trafficking and trigger in her a flash of memory of her own dark, fear-ridden past. Her connection to this boy has been carved with deliberation and malice that penetrate to her very core. Because of an accident as a child, Jana lost her memory and she doesn’t know anything about her childhood. But she realizes that the small boy can lead her to the truth. So, in parallel with the investigation, and off the record, Jana tries to understand who the boy is and where he is coming from. The more she finds out about the boy’s background, the more she finds out about her own. And to protect her own hidden past, she must find the suspect behind these murders, before the police do.
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) Writing MARKED FOR LIFE I worked from an outline, and I still do. The most important thing is the story and an outline gives you time to think about the story and how everything fits together with the characters, their paths and so on. Rearranging the order is also much easier when outlining than after a book is written. But even though I know where the book is going, my main character Jana Berzelius always takes a path of her own, and the path she takes is almost always better than the one I have planned for her.
My books are often based on real life events, but I also like to twist the story with Jana Berzelius power.
Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?
A) My favourite authors and recommended reads are Jo Nesbø´s Phantom,
Lars Kepler´s The Sandman and Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman.
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
A) It was Kitty Drew by Carolyn Keene. I was a proud owner of all the books in the series published in Sweden.
Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
A) It was definitely when the readers voted me for Sweden’s Best Crime writer of the year in 2016. I started out on my own, as a self-publisher, because I really believed in the story about Jana Berzelius. Thanks to my determination I managed to sell a lot of books but without my readers I wouldn’t have managed to succeed in the genre. My readers believed in the story and actually started to spread the word. They posted comments on blogs and social media, giving their support online. Having fans recommending your book to others is the best marketing you can get. Today, I am the most successful self-published author in Sweden and I’ve sold almost My books have been sold in almost one million copies in 29 countries around the world.
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) My husband is my biggest support ever. We are partners in crime, business, and love.
Emelie Schepp’s Marked for Life is out 6th July (HQ, £7.99)
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