Monday, May 01, 2017

What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis

First Line: "Can't you get him to shut up at night?"

Ella Nygaard has no memories of the night when her father murdered her mother. Her seven-year-old mind closed them off. Twenty years later, she's a ward of the state, raising her own little boy and suffering from crippling PTSD-induced panic attacks.

After one very bad episode, Ella finds herself in a psych ward and her son placed with a foster family. Desperate not to lose him, Ella kidnaps her son and runs to the small town in northern Denmark where she was born. She can live for free in her grandmother's abandoned house until she thinks of a way to convince social services that she's a fit mother.

But being back in that small town is forcing Ella to confront her demons-- those memories her mind has tried so hard to forget. If she can remember, perhaps she will begin to heal... or maybe the truth will put her in even greater danger.

Having read and enjoyed the Nina Borg mysteries Agnete Friis co-wrote with Lene Kaaberbøl, I looked forward to What My Body Remembers with a great deal of anticipation. What I discovered was something else entirely. Normally unlikable main characters don't bother me, but I've been plagued with a rash of them in my reading recently, so by the time I was introduced to Ella Nygaard my patience had already been worn down to a nub.

This one quote sums up Ella's character: "...when anybody tries to talk to you, you just turn your back. Literally. That boy of yours must have been miraculously conceived when you either were too drunk or too high to fend another person off." Ella depends upon social services for money in order to live, but she spends a great deal of time doing nothing but making everything harder for herself and for the agencies trying to help her. If you try to do her a kindness, be prepared to get punched in the nose. 

The pace of the book is glacial, and I deduced the villain and an important plot twist well in advance of their reveal. I hate to say it, but reading What My Body Remembers was a chore and the only reason why I finished it was because I wanted to see if my deductions were correct. If a slow pace doesn't bother you-- and if you haven't had a surfeit of unlikable characters in your recent reading, this may very well be your cup of tea. It just wasn't mine.

What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis
 Translated from the Danish by Lindy Falk van Rooyen.
ISBN: 9781616956028
Soho Crime © 2017
Hardcover, 304 pages

Thriller, Standalone
Rating: D
Source: the publisher


  1. sorry you didn't like this one, Cathy. I'd been wondering about it, because I like the Nina Borg novels, too. Hmmm...I may just give this one a miss...


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!