Today I’m sharing my thoughts on My Name Is Jensen by Heidi Amsinck, a new Danish thriller featuring the titular journalist, Jensen. My thanks to publishers Muswell Press and Tim Donald at Brownlee Donald for the gifted advance copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invite. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
One word on a beggar’s cardboard sign. And now he is dead, stabbed in a wintry Copenhagen street, the second homeless victim in as many weeks.
Dagbladet reporter Jensen, stumbling across the body on her way to work, calls her ex lover DI Henrik Jungersen. As, inevitably, old passions are rekindled, so are old regrets, and that is just the start of Jensen’s troubles. The front page is an open goal, but nothing feels right….. When a third body turns up, it seems certain that a serial killer is on the loose. But why pick on the homeless? And is the link to an old murder case just a coincidence?
With her teenage apprentice Gustav, Jensen soon finds herself putting everything on the line to discover exactly who is guilty …
I am finding myself increasingly drawn to Scandi noir and so when offered the opportunity to read this new title from Heidi Amsinck I was more than happy. I’ll be honest, despite knowing a few people who hail from Denmark, it’s not a country I know a lot about or one I’ve read a lot of literature from so I welcomed the opportunity to try something a little new. What I found with My Name is Jensen is a slow burning novel which piqued my interest from the start and maintained its mystery and misdirection right to the end.
This is the story of journalist, Jensen, who discovers the body of a young man whilst on her daily ride into work. Although as a journalist you’d expect her interest to be triggered by the murder, she is reluctant to report on the story itself, her focus falling more on the victim and the whys and wherefores of how he came to be living, and dying, on the streets in the midst of a snowstorm. The more she learns, the less it all makes sense and the more Jensen, and by default, me as reader, gets drawn into the story. And this is no straightforward story, the author turning the tables on what you might first believe is happening, certainly leaving a very perplexing trail of bodies across the city to keep the local police well and truly baffled.
I won’t lie, Jensen is not an easy character to get to know, or like. She’s very complex, spiky almost and it took time to settle into my stride reading the book. She has all the determination and stubbornness of a great protagonist, and her instincts are largely proven to be spot on, but she is quite cool, almost aloof, and not someone it is easy to warm to. And yet she seems most popular amongst the male population, perhaps because she is seen as the slightly (or often completely) unattainable woman in their lives. There is a strong chemistry between Jensen and Detective Henrik who is investigating the murders, but nothing in their relationship is straightforward and it adds a kind of conflict to a story which is already keeping readers on edge.
There is a certain amount of tension which is maintained throughout the novel, a sense of threat which bubbles along under the surface of the main story. We are drip fed a number of suspects, all of whom have reason to dislike at least one of the victims, but all of whom seem to have unshakeable alibis. I had guessed part way through the story as to where this was likely to lead, a suspicion which was proven true by the end but I was still intrigued by the story, more so from around the halfway point when we knew a lot more about the first victim and the pool of suspects. A bit like Jensen, the more I read, the more I wanted to know about the first victim, Thomas, knowing that his story, as tragic as it appeared, was likely the key to everything. And the author has done a great job of making him appear a very sympathetic victim, making the reader invested in him, no matter what we learn about him along the way.
From a character perspective, the author has done a great job in surrounding the perhaps less lovable Jensen with people who made me smile. Aziz, although the strong silent type himself, was someone I took to pretty quickly and, in spite of their unhealthy obsession with Jensen, Henrik and Esben kept me invested in their parts of the story. Gustav, as an initial thorn in Jensen’s side eventually comes into his own in the way only the youth of today can (how old do I sound?). And I just wish I had a coffee making Liron in my life …
This is a very traditional feeling thriller with a real mystery at its heart. There is a subplot which never gets resolved and leaves the impression that there is still more to come from Jensen. And I’m glad about that. She may not be the warmest hero in modern fiction, but Jensen has a grit which makes her intriguing and unpredictable to go on a journey, with and lord knows what she’ll lead us all into next.
About the Author
Heidi Amsinck, is a writer and journalist born in Copenhagen. She was London Correspondent for the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. She has written many stories for BBC Radio 4, including the story sets Danish Noir, Copenhagen Confidential and Copenhagen Curios, all read by Tim McInnerney. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Heidi lives in London. Last Train to Helsingør her first collection of stories, was published in 2018.
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