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Helle and Death

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to like this book - it is full of my ideal tropes: country house, snow, murder, but unfortunately I did not enjoy the style of writing or the characters. Thank you for the opportunity.

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I'm still reading and loving it. An excellent homage to classic mystery, a solid story that kept me guessing and turning pages.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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I enjoyed this book, an interesting country house murder mystery, they get snowed in and there's a power cut. And a murderer on the loose. Of course there is. I liked the main character Torben Helle, a Danish art historian, with all his Danish sayings. A modern day setting for a reunion of university friends, but they haven't all seen each other in a few years so there may have been a few changes. Great pace, a good amount of twists and turns and altogether very enjoyable.

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An enjoyable whodunnit. The story is a classic locked room mystery.

Bunch of people in their 30s, who were friends a decade ago, brought together in an old mansion, and get snowed in. Then the host is murdered. Yes - it's an Agatha Christie revival, this time with a Danish guest-turned-sleuth.

Nobody loves a classic British mystery more than I do, and I'm all for reviving the classic formula. But Helle and Death is a 3-star read for me because it felt rather formulaic. And I mean formulaic, rather than 'homage'. It's clever, well structured and intriguing, so it probably deserves a better review than this, but it just didn't hit the mark for me. This is parotting the classic form while bringing nothing new. Nothing stood out for me apart from the narration: the audio version is a pleasure to listen to.

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I enjoyed this one. It was very cosy for a mystery and I enjoyed the main characters. it was a fun ride and easily one of the quickest reads of 2024 so far

Would recommend

3 stars

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A locked room murder mystery, Helle & Death was an enjoyable read, but not enough sparkle to set it apart feom others in this crowded genre.

When a group of university friends are invited to a gathering st their friends country house, they are not expecting the revelations that follow. An apparent suicide rocks the group and questions arise of who they should trust.

I had high hopes for this book, having heard sone glowing reviews on Twitter, and yet it fell flat for me.

Its fairly average in length and yet I felt it dragging on at a glacial pace, matching the frosty weather faces by the characters.

A banal bunch, I didnt care enough about the characters to feel truly invested in the story, but it did keep my attention enough to make me read on and finish.

I love a locked room, isolated mystery but there are so many of these stories around now that the writing needs to truly sing to stand out from the crown. Helle & Death was lacking. It had an interesting conclusion but this wasn’t enough to save it.

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This book has a great premise and several interesting characters.
I was really looking forward to reading it and loved the start, say 25%.
Then the pacing slowed and there was a lot of unnecessary information.
I struggled to the end and by that time was not bothered who did it... sorry.
Many thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley UK.

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I really enjoyed this cosy murder mystery. The mqin characyer felt fresh and I loved all the Danish quirks and sayings. The mystery kept me guessing to the end and the setting was very atmospheric. Makes me want to delve more into the #whodunnit genre.

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Because of the comparisons to Christie I was expecting a historical cosy crime so was very surprised to find that it's modern. Must admit that threw me. I'm not really a fan of cosy crime and thought I would like this because of the suggestion of a Christie type read. I must say it didn't tick the boxes for me and I don't think it should be compared to Christie we are more in Richard Osman, Richard Coles territory.

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Some of the best friends you will ever make are those that you meet at university. Torben Helle – a Danish art historian – is heading to Northumberland for a reunion with seven such friends, the first time they have been together in the same room for years. But what’s a few years between friends?

When their host makes a shocking revelation over dinner, things seem to shift amongst the group. And then when he is found in his room, shot through the centre of his forehead…

As the snow around the house deepens, Torben takes it upon himself to play detective. As a trained observer (primarily of paintings), he should be ideally skilled to spot a killer. Unless, of course, he’s looking in completely the wrong direction…

You may recall that, being an Oxford person myself, I’ve been rather snippy in the past about depictions of life in a college, usually because the person writing it clearly hasn’t been there and is leaning heavily into the cliches. However Oskar Jensen clearly (and I did check, but it was clear beforehand) was a student there. OK, he did go to Christ Church, but nobody’s perfect, but the stories he tells here of the group of friends and what they got up to just feels… genuine. I’m kind of curious exactly how much of it is based on real events – probably not the murder part.

So I’m guessing Torben Helle is somewhat autobiographical, but he’s a wonderful lead character. I say the lead, as there’s a team of three leading the sleuthing – Torben, Ruth who has become a police officer and Leyla, a woman who Tor has something of a history with – and we often see each character’s insights into current events, which can be a tricky line to take for an author when at least one of the characters has a lot to hide. There aren’t many authors who try this, and even fewer who do it well – Michael Jecks is the only one who springs to mind. Well, you can add Oskar Jensen to that short list as well.

The characters all seem real and nicely distinct, with the relationship between Torben and Leyla especially well done, I thought. The plot twists all over the place with at least one great fake solution – and a really impressive real one. There’s some nice Golden Age references too, but while the plot has certain classic tropes, there’s some very clever original ideas here.

Right, do I need to find a niggle? It is kind of my thing… oh, Torben at one point says that he never read Sayers as her series was too long – it’s only eleven books. Yes, some of those books are a bit long… OK, that’s a pretty weak niggle. Sorry, that’s the best I can come up with…

Needless to say, I loved this one. Definitely worth your time.

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Book Review:
Helle and Death by Oskar Kensen
Published by Viper Books, 18th Jan 2024

Synopsis:
Torben Helle - art historian, Danish expat and owner of several excellent Scandinavian jumpers - has been dragged to a remote snowbound Northumbrian mansion for a ten-year reunion with old university friends. Things start to go sideways when their host, a reclusive and irritating tech entrepreneur, makes some shocking revelations at the dinner table. And when these are followed by an apparent suicide, the group faces a test of their wits ... and their trust. Snowed in and cut off, surrounded by enigmatic housekeepers and off-duty police inspectors, not to mention a peculiar last will and testament, suspicion and sarcasm quickly turn to panic. As the temperature drops and the tension mounts, Torben decides to draw upon all the tricks of Golden Age detectives past in order to solve the mystery: how much money would it take to turn one of his old friends into a murderer? But he'd better be quick, or someone else might end up dead ...

Review:
With a fantastic cast of characters, an old, country house setting amid a snowstorm and a peculiar host, Helle and Death is a joyous murder mystery - if there can be such a thing!

With the brilliantly written Torben Helle (that's two syllables) at the helm, and without really trusting each other, the group of old friends try to work out how host Anthony comes to wind up dead in his bed of an apparent suicide. There's time to get to know each character, but with plenty of secrets between them, not to mention a few red herrings, at least one of the group may have something to hide.

This was a great book in so many ways, and is perfect for fans of murder mysteries, cozy crime and similar.
*I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley, and this is my unbiased review. Thanks to Viper Books, Oskar Jensen and NetGalley.

#BookReview #BookReviewer #Bookstagram #HelleAndDeath #OskarJensen #ViperBooks

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A group of old friends… a dinner party … an isolated house … a snowstorm… a dead body and a few twists - All add up to a great locked room, cosy murder mystery.

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Helle and Death
Mystery/Thriller
Oskar Jensen
⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

• ꜱᴜꜱᴘɪᴄɪᴏɴ • ᴍᴀɴɪᴘᴜʟᴀᴛɪᴏɴ • ꜱᴇᴄʀᴇᴛꜱ •

I liked this book but I have to admit that I was expecting more.

The pacing was ok but it wasn't consistent throughout the book. I found that some parts really dragged for me.

The characters all had potential motives but their personalities felt a little flat. Nothing about them really stood out to me.

I liked the setting itself and the snowstorm. The glossary at the beginning really helped, I did go back to it a few times to double check what certain words and phrases meant.

I found myself wanting more tension and more surprises. While there were some plot twists, they didn't blow me away.

If you like cosy mysteries instead of fast paced thrillers, then I think you'd like this book.

*Thank you to @Netgalley, the author, and the publishers for providing this ARC. This is my own opinion and an honest review, which I am leaving voluntarily*

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Ten years after graduating, a group of University friends are invited to a remote house in Northumberland for a reunion. Their fortunes have differed but the host is a rich tech entrepreneur and he makes an announcement that shocks them all. Hours later he is dead, a suicide or murder? As the weather closes in , friendships are tested.
This is a terrific book! Ostensibly a deferential homage to the golden age of crime writing - a death, a group of suspects isolated from the rest of the world etc. - there is plenty of reference to classic writers. However there are a few twists along the way which make this a great take on the genre.

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This is your typical murder scenario. A group of old school friends come together, one of the friends invites them to their stately home. One of them is killed in the night, and it becomes apparent that someone is a murderer!
Even if you've read murder Mysteries before this is one to add to your list. It's quite comical between the characters at the beginning. The location, severe weather and remote location make it a great appeal. The name drop references throughout the story of well known characters I.e. such as Poirot, Sherlock and more was a nice touch.
All the friends had a motive and this was certainly a golden oldie of a whodunit!

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Helle and Death
by Oskar Jensen
Reviewed by A.R.Arthur

Helle and Death by Oskar Jensen is a striking resuscitation of what often feels like the age-old murder mystery. This novel adds to this great genre of literature by taking on modern twists and turns that are developed through a Danish influenced perspective and diction usage that gives this novel a certain Scandinavian je nais se quois that captivates the reader early on.

The novel is centered around Torben Helle, a Danish expat art-historian who is taken to a remote, gelid Northumbrian mansion for a ten-year reunion with university friends. This reunion turns into a mysterious, deadly and unsettling experience as the friends’ harrowing journey begins to elapse. The usual harbingers of mystery are evident from the secluded mansion to the eccentricities of their host who gives the reader additional intrigue to dissect.

On narrative, Torben, as the protagonist of this Novel and his relationships with his university friends and their intricacies make up much of this novel. Whilst witty humor and stark tenseness juxtapose one-another throughout this novel, it should be noted that this is certainly a more character driven narrative at large. Secrets begin to emerge as copious alcohol is consumed and the night progresses. But more importantly, a sense of intimacy between friends allows for this atmosphere of reflection to slowly become one where the air is off and old fixations and unknown truths lead to greater distrust as the night wears on. This is perhaps most poignant in terms of Anthony Dodd’s revelations regarding his will. This plot seeks to solve the suspicious death that makes this narrative whole but is also heavily concerned with the relationships between characters.

On setting, Jensen’s rich, atmospheric imagery and description allows the reader to full surrender themselves to the jarring hoary nature blanketing the world around the mansion and silencing the fear held within. I was intrigued by the mansion being presented as being owned by the most ‘successful’ of the bunch in that such murder mysteries are often tied to the rich and the opulent homes they possess and this feels like an ode to this tradition. A certain sense of the traditional oozes through this novel despite its modern setting and this old-world feel at times, brings forward a sense of nostalgia in relation to the literature of the past.

On character, Jensen’s emphasis on careful diversity that only serves the core narrative should be paid attention to in that it allows the reader to work through the mystery with very few giveaways. This ensures not only that the readability is maintained but also allows for strength of narrative progression that keeps the reader consistently engaged. The variety of character backgrounds from a police inspector to an academic, serves to highlight a sense of contrast that reads as clearly well thought out.

As a conversational Danish speaker and admirer of Danish culture, I especially appreciated the carefully crafted and embedded commentary made by Helle in relation to rather comical commentary widely shared in Denmark. This is most poignant with sardonic reflections on the Swedes. Something important to note, is that this cultural embedding is important and seldom maintained in many novels. Jensen must be commended for this. In addition, the inclusion of a Danish glossary was a fantastic addition beyond pure utility.

As a whole, this is not the usual murder-mystery that has stoked interest in many generations. Instead, Helle and Death presents the reader with a more contemporary depiction of this genre whilst challenging anglophone hegemony through Danish additions that serve, on a deeper level, to engage with the greater multilingualism and multiculturalism that has begun to make this globalized world feel more like a village with each passing day. It should be said that the intensity of the denouement made up for the more character heavy slower middle of this novel.

Whilst the ending packs a might punch, you will have to read this mighty novel by Oskar Jensen to find out more. This all-engrossing novel launches in January 2024 and should definitely be on your reading list!

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Helle and Death is a locked room murder mystery, which ticks all the boxes for the fans of the genre. While the plot may seem a bit contrived, it is entertaining enough, with plenty of red herrings to keep the reader’s attention. I listened to some of the book on audio and and found the narration to be quite enjoyable.

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The minute you read the opening glossary of Danish sayings you know you’re on the hook for whatever follows, smiling as you read on.

Helle and Death is a cleverly plotted murder mystery that pays homage to the golden age detective genre. Helle and Death begins with a university reunion of eight former students who studied at Oxford together a decade ago. One of them is wealthy, (others distinctly less so) having made his fortune at an early age by writing software and making money through the resulting app. Now he’s sold up and is living in Bastle House, a remote Northumbrian manor house.

He has gathered his old friends together for a reunion dinner although as we soon find out, he has more than a reunion on his mind. Of course it’s blowing up a snowstorm outside and the friends are soon marooned.

As they spend the evening together reminiscing over their days of academe there are some startling revelations; the atmosphere is replete with tension, sniping starts and the whole evening has a dark pall cast over it, not helped by the free flow of alcohol.

The following morning one of the group is dead and with the others trapped and no communication with the world outside, it is down to Danish art historian, Torben Helle to find the truth together with Ruth a police officer and Leyla, a woman who Tor knows quite well…

Torben Helle is a terrific character and one I genuinely hope to see more of. He is witty, astute and has a great line in jumpers.

Oskar Jensen has taken all the usual tropes of the locked room mystery and given them a fresh and sometimes playful twist. The interaction between the characters is very well done with realism and genuinely funny word play with oodles of wit. This is very much a character driven narrative with Jensen spending time on the interplay between the characters and considering the friendships that have developed. There are so many secrets between the former students that have to be uncovered. With a power outage, it’s probably nursing the simmering resentment that keeps the house warm as tempers grow and people start to show their fraying edges.

Torben as the chief sleuth is both witty and erudite, but that doesn’t stop him from being wrong-footed from time to time and following the wrong path. But every time he does so, the tension in the house rises until it is almost tangible.

Verdict: Helle and Death is a modern take on a classic theme and it is accomplished with style and wit. Beautifully written, cleverly plotted and altogether fabulously done, this original take on the classic murder mystery takes on pace as the climax comes nearer and the end is a cracking denouement that both pleases and surprises.

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#HelleAndDeath by #OskarJensen begins with humourous and delightful characters, however, at the 35% mark, it starts to feel rather flat. It was a difficult slog to reach the finish. There is a great amount to praise within this book but for me, they're buried under a lot of what is, essentially, unnecessary.

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If you like a "cosy" mystery with a character driven plot then this is for you. It's the usual house party while there they get snowed in and the shenanigan's begin. With plenty of red herrings and twists and turns, I was certainly kept guessing for a considerable time until the reveal which was a total surprise to me although perhaps shouldn't have been. It did get a little slow at times but I powered through due to all the 5 star reviews and while glad I did I can't score it that highly 3.5 stars round up. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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