The Dinosaur Feather
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
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Selected by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan as her favorite mystery of 2013 and one of the top ten mysteries of the year by The Wall Street Journal’s Tom Nolan, S.J. Gazan's debut novel The Dinosaur Feather is a classic of Scandinavian noir. With keenly observed and deeply flawed characters, this scintillating thriller uniquely employs one of the most controversial and fascinating areas of contemporary dinosaur and avian research in its diabolical twists. The Dinosaur Feather has been published in more than a dozen countries and won the Danish Crime Novel of the Decade Award. The Financial Times called it “a top-flight thriller—smart and outrageously entertaining.
Biology postgraduate, PhD hopeful, and single mom Anna Bella Nor is just two weeks away from defending her thesis on the saurian origin of birds when her academic supervisor, the highly respected yet widely despised Dr. Lars Helland, is found dead in his office chair at the University of Copenhagen. The police discover a copy of Anna’s thesis in the dead man’s bloody lap.
When the autopsy suggests that Helland was murdered in a fiendishly ingenious way, brilliant but tormented young Police Superintendent Søren Marhauge begins the daunting task of unraveling the knotted skeins of interpersonal and intellectual intrigue among the scientists at the university.
Everyone involved with the investigation— from Anna Bella Nor to Helland’s numerous rivals to Marhauge’s own ex-wife, who is pregnant with her current husband’s child— has something to hide, complicating the investigation and presenting the detective with the greatest professional and personal challenge of his career.
S.J. Gazan graduated from the University of Copenhagen with a degree in biology. Her debut work of crime fiction, The Dinosaur Feather, was awarded the 2008 Denmark Radio Literature Prize for Best Novel of the Year and went on to become a national bestseller. The Danish Broadcasting Corporation voted The Dinosaur Feather the Crime Novel of the Decade, and in January 2013, it was awarded the Literature Prize of the Ambassadors of the French-Speaking Countries. It has been sold into more than a dozen countries. Gazan lives in Berlin with her husband and two children. Follow S.J. at https://www.facebook.com/sjgazan
Charlotte Barslund is a Danish translator of novels and plays. She has translated works by Karin Fossum, Per Petterson, Carsten Jensen, Thomas Enger, Mikkel Birkegaard, and many more.
"My best mystery of the year turns out to be yet another stunner from Scandinavia. I could be wrong (but I don't think I am) when I say that Gazan disposes of a murder victim here by an infernal means that no other mystery writer—not even the resourceful Dame Agatha—ever concocted."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR. "Favorite 10 Books of 2013."
"Formidable and satisfying . . . in the author's menacing world, sins of emotional cowardice and betrayal can be just as awful as offenses against the criminal code."—Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal (selected as one of the top ten mysteries of 2013)
"The asides—the dissemination of DNA, the structure of dinosaur skulls—prove as intriguing as the central mystery. A top-flight thriller that’s poisonous, smart and outrageously entertaining." —Christopher Fowler, Financial Times
"Simply put, The Dinosaur Feather is the weirdest and most ingenious new mystery I’ve read in years . . . it will be obvious to readers why Gazan’s novel would be the leader of almost any pack. Moody and intricate, The Dinosaur Feather is every bit as unforgettable as its creepy title." —Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post
"Skulls, feathers, claws and winged flight—all are part of an ongoing scientific controversy about the evolution of birds that winds through the pages of Danish author S.J. Gazan’s absorbing debut thriller.” —Barbra Clark, BookPage
"Gazan’s brainy thriller . . . Gazan orchestrates the suspenseful action and overlapping lives of her complex characters with deceptive ease . . . [A] moving exploration of such broader themes as parenthood, love, and the potentially poisonous results of living with lies." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Intelligently plotted and psychologically believable." —Marcel Berlins, The Times
"Gazan's novel has by far outdone, not to say outshone, all other crime novels published this year." —Anette Dina Sørensen, Politiken
"Imaginative . . . a book with an independent, capable female lead, and one in which scientific research is central." —Maxine Clark, Eurocrime
"Sissel-Jo Gazan has mastered the arts of suspense and revelation." —Kristeligt Dagblad
"Simply first class." —Jyllands-Posten