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Memento / druk 1
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Memento / druk 1 (2015)

Series: Jana Berzelius (1)

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18011119,045 (3.3)1
Bestselling author Emelie Schepp introduces us to the enigmatic, unforgettable Jana Berzelius in this first novel of a chilling trilogy. When a high-ranking head of the migration board is found shot to death in his living room, there is no shortage of suspects. But no one expects to find the mysterious child-sized handprint in the childless home. A few days later, the body of a preteen boy is discovered, and with him, the murder weapon that killed him and the original victim. To protect her own hidden past, public prosecutor Jana Berzelius must find the suspect behind these murders, before the police do.… (more)
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Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp (2015)

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English (7)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (11)
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Emelie Schepp is a Swedish mystery author. There are five books in the Jana Berzelius series, only three of which are published in English: Marked for Life, Marked for Revenge, Slowly we Die. She shopped the initial book and nobody bought it so she published independently resulting in her being the independently published author who sold the most books in Sweden.

Henrick Levin and Mia Bolander are called out to a murder scene. Hans Juhlen, head of Sweden’s Migration Board handling asylum issues was found dead in his home by his wife. He was shot to death where he lay. There is virtually no forensic evidence except a finger print and palm print on the window sill, belonging to a young child, and since the Juhlens were childless, it must belong to a stranger.

Several days later a young boy was found shot to death in a nearby deserted shoreline. His finger prints match those on the window sill and the gun found next to him could be the Juhlen murder weapon. The strange thing is that on the back of the boy’s neck was carved the name Thanos. In Greek mythology Thanos is the personification of death. Could a young boy really be capable of murder?

Enter prosecutor Jana Berzelius who will head the investigation. Jana is strong and professional and harbors a few secrets of her own. The first is that she remembers nothing about her life prior to her being adopted as a pre-teen. Second is the carving on the back of her neck, Ker. In Greek mythology, Ker is a female death spirit. Could she and this murdered boy have something in common. Ever since she can remember she has been having disturbing dreams. She has spent years trying to learn of her past. Could this possibly bring those memories to the forefront?

I really liked Marked for Life and plan on continuing to read this series. Jana’s hunt for her identity puts her at odds with the police investigation, both of which are strongly pulling at her. The police procedural involving Levin and Bolansky as well as several other team members including a forensic specialist is realistic as they doggedly pursue clues all the while being hounded by the press. Schepp combines their personal lives and business lives so we get to know our characters.

And if you like suspense and action, you’ve got plenty of it here. The author manages to touch on people smuggling, drugs and child soldiers all in one book but it doesn’t overwhelm you.

Everyone has a different set of criteria for what is Nordic Noir. For me it’s the atmosphere, bleak, dark, dreary, depressing both in location and in characters. While the subjects in Marked for Life are depressing, the atmosphere did not meet my “Noir’ criteria. Neither the locale nor the characters exhibit those qualities. So, Marked for Life is a good intro into Scandinavian Noir if you want to start slow.

I must show a quote to you from the New York Journal of Books. “Marked for Life gives you such a chill that ice forms along your extremities and sends you burrowing under the bed covers seeking not so much warmth, as a hiding place from evil.” Indeed, evil does lurk between the covers of this book.

Marked for Life is recommended for fans of Camilla Lackberg, Sara Blaedel and Steig Larsson.
This book is prime fodder for movies, so I hope someone picks up the movie option. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Oct 27, 2020 |
3.5 stars.

Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp is the first installment in the Jana Berzelius trilogy. Set in Sweden, this intriguing mystery is rather dark with a chilling storyline.

Following the puzzling murder of the head of the asylum board Hans Juhlén, Public Prosecutor Jana Berzelius is assigned to the case. With little evidence at the scene of the crime, the investigation is not making much progress until security footage yields the first tangible clue. A series of threatening letters found in the victim's home and unexplained cash withdrawals are also of interest to the investigators and this discovery is the first hint that Hans might have been involved in some unsavory activities. However, the first real breakthrough in the case occurs when the remains of a young boy are discovered on the beach along with a gun that matches the weapon used in Juhlén's murder. During the autopsy, a strange mark on the boy's neck that is eerily similar to one on Jana's neck leads the prosecutor to begin a covert investigation of her own.

Jana is a hardworking, highly successful prosecutor who is quite dedicated to her job. She is a little cold and distant with no close personal friends. Her relationship with her parents is somewhat strained but she dutifully joins them for social engagements. Jana's father is a highly respected prosecutor who is now retired and although they do not discuss her cases, he is interested in their final outcome. She has been plagued with a series of nightmares that date back to her childhood and in an effort to try to understand their meaning, Jana keeps extensive notes about her dreams. After seeing the mark on the deceased boy's neck, she is determined to uncover the truth about her past.

Since Jana is not overly concerned about legalities, her investigation moves a little faster than the official one. She is one step ahead of the police for much of novel but they are, of course, uncovering the same evidence she is. Trying to maintain her composure is sometimes rather tricky, but she manages to keep her emotions and expressions under control at their progress meetings. Jana is slowly but surely putting the pieces of the puzzle together and she turns to someone from her past to aid her during the investigation. Although they have not been in contact since childhood, Jana trusts him implicitly and he provides her with information that could crack the case and give her the answers she needs to understand what happened to her when she was a child.

An overall solid debut by Emelie Schepp, Marked for Life is an engrossing mystery that delves into some very difficult subject matter such as human trafficking, the drug trade and the exploitation of children. The official investigation is initially a bit of a slow burner but once it gains momentum, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge. While the characters are fairly well developed and likable, they are the stereotypical cops found in police procedurals. Jana is a unique, multi-layered protagonist with a fascinating back story and it will be interesting to see the evolution of her character in the next books in the trilogy. While the novel does not conclude on a cliffhanger, not all of the storylines are wrapped up so readers will be impatiently awaiting the next installment in the Jana Berzelius trilogy.
( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
Fast paced thriller set in Sweden about prosecutor Jana Berzelius who has a past that is coming back to her via dreams. When the Asylum Manager is found dead, it sets off a chain reaction that leads to much more sinister events and horrible discoveries.
Tight writing, complex story, well done!

#MarkedForLife #EmelieSchepp ( )
  rmarcin | Mar 26, 2019 |
Fast paced thriller set in Sweden about prosecutor Jana Berzelius who has a past that is coming back to her via dreams. When the Asylum Manager is found dead, it sets off a chain reaction that leads to much more sinister events and horrible discoveries.
Tight writing, complex story, well done!

#MarkedForLife #EmelieSchepp ( )
  rmarcin | Mar 19, 2019 |
I have the second book of this trilogy (Marked for Revenge) on my TBR pile & thought I’d better get my mitts on the first one instead of jumping into the middle of a series. Glad I did.

The publicity blurb gives a good synopsis of the story line so I won’t re-blab too much of the plot. This is an excellent example of compelling Scandi-noir with a strong female protagonist. Jana Berzelius is a public prosecutor & ends up working with police on a complex case with shocking ties to her personal past. As the book progresses, we learn what is lurking behind her cool, uber-eficient facade.

The author hooks us (and Jana) up to a slow drip of background info that has major ramifications for how the case will play out. She also tackles tough subjects such as child trafficking & abuse of immigrants seeking asylum, topics that have chilling relevance in current affairs.

It’s a dark, fast paced read with a wide range of characters. Some will invoke your sympathy, others you’ll abhor. What kept me reading was trying to figure out how the MC would get herself out of the whole snarly mess. By the end, police close the case but we know there is much more to the story & it sets the stage for an inevitable showdown between Jana & one of the characters.

My only complaint has to do with the translation. I’m not sure if Ms. Schepp or someone else produced the english version. Regrettably, there are many instances of odd word choices & awkward phrasing that cause your eyes to stumble & take note. It pulls you out of the moment which is unfortunate as there’s a great story here that would be even better with improved flow. However, as a first novel it’s still an impressive debut.

If you’re a fan of “cozies”, step away! The obvious comparisons as far as the MC is concerned would be those created by Carol O’Connell, Taylor Stevens & (to a lesser extent) Stieg Larsson. I’d recommend starting here as there is a tremendous amount of back story that will no doubt inform the rest of the series. On to book #2! ( )
  RowingRabbit | Dec 18, 2016 |
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Bestselling author Emelie Schepp introduces us to the enigmatic, unforgettable Jana Berzelius in this first novel of a chilling trilogy. When a high-ranking head of the migration board is found shot to death in his living room, there is no shortage of suspects. But no one expects to find the mysterious child-sized handprint in the childless home. A few days later, the body of a preteen boy is discovered, and with him, the murder weapon that killed him and the original victim. To protect her own hidden past, public prosecutor Jana Berzelius must find the suspect behind these murders, before the police do.

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