The Summer of Ellen (Paperback)
Agnete Friis’s lyrical, evocative work of psychological suspense weaves together two periods in one man’s life to explore obsession, toxic masculinity, and the tricks we play on our own memory.
Jacob, a middle-aged architect living in Copenhagen, is in the alcohol-soaked throes of a bitter divorce when he receives an unexpected call from his great-uncle Anton. In his nineties and still living with his brother on their rural Jutland farm—a place Jacob hasn’t visited since the summer of 1978—Anton remains haunted by a single question: What happened to Ellen?
To find out, Jacob must return to the farm and confront what took place that summer—one defined by his teenage obsession with Ellen, a beautiful young hippie from the local commune, and the unsolved disappearance of a local girl. In revisiting old friends and rivals, Jacob discovers the tragedies that have haunted him for over forty years were not what they seemed.
About the Author
Agnete Friis has co-authored four novels in the award-winning New York Times bestselling Nina Borg series: The Boy in the Suitcase, Invisible Murder, Death of a Nightingale, and The Considerate Killer. She lives in Copenhagen. What My Body Remembers was her solo debut.
Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov is a Danish to English translator whose previous projects include Susanne Clod Pedersen’s Arnulf: A Viking Saga, Marie Tourell Søderberg’s Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness, Katja Berger’s The Reaper of Souls, and Anette Sams’s The Truth about Sugar. She is also SmokeLong Quarterly magazine’s guest editor for Danish.
A CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime & Mystery Novel of 2019
Praise for The Summer of Ellen
“This is a beautifully written book, descriptive, atmospheric and carefully woven . . . Alfred Hitchcock once said that a thriller is a whodunit, an intellectual process, but suspense is an emotional one. Friis knows this—and slowly, slowly takes us by the hand and draws us into a seductive, and dangerous, summer.”
“Absorbing . . . Ms. Friis holds us spellbound, watching in grim fascination.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“An atmospheric psychological journey.”
—Mystery Scene Magazine
“A character study wrapped around a novel of suspense, with every blade of grass, every whispering tree, beautifully painting a picture of both longing and desolation.”
“Friis offers up a spellbinding mystery totally in step the growing dialog about toxic masculinity and the price we all pay for indulging it . . . It’s a deep dive into dark places.”
—Barnes & Noble
“Set against the lush Danish farmland of the ’70s, a hippie commune, and modern-day Copenhagen, The Summer of Ellen is a richly drawn, uncompromising tale about Jacob’s desperate journey grappling with a forty-year-old mystery from his toxic adolescence. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Cara Black, New York Times bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc mysteries
“Agnete Friis knows every buzzing insect, every scratchy hayseed on the Jutland farm of her troubled protagonist, Jacob. The Summer of Ellen is unmissable—a brilliant exploration of faulty memory and the lasting effects of adolescent trauma.”
—Lene Kaaberbøl, New York Times bestselling co-author of the Nina Borg thrillers
“This branch of Nordic noir could be called Danish desolate; the settings, in contemporary Copenhagen and on a Jutlandfarm in 1978, mirror the psychological landscape by focusing on the bleak and challenging . . . Brilliant.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
“Modern Copenhagen, Danish farmland in the ‘70s, and a hippy commune: The Summer of Ellen has all the ingredients for a gripping, literary noir.”
“Friis, coauthor with Lene Kaaberbøl of the Nina Borg mysteries, excels in her second solo novel (after What My Body Remembers). Readers of Nordic noir literature will appreciate the setting, social critique, and the classic whodunit story. Fans of Henning Mankell’s Wallander series will enjoy the excellent character development with twists and turns throughout.”
“Very strong . . . The Summer of Ellen reminded me of an international version of Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning.”
Praise for Agnete Friis
“In this sensitive character study, Agnete Friis, who writes the Nina Borg mysteries with Lene Kaaberbøl, dares us to confront bad mothers and other outcasts.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“The first solo novel by Friis . . . measures up to the best-selling Nordic noir novel The Boy in the Suitcase. Ella Nygaard, 27, is a flawed, memorable character.”
—The BBC, Between the Lines
“A classic whodunit with a great up-to-date character and twist . . . An excellent character study of a woman in extreme crisis.”
—The Globe and Mail
“[A] must-read . . . Half of the duo who co-wrote the socially conscious Nina Borg series, Friis brings that same liberal political slant to this new thriller about love and violence in families.”
“The skillfully calibrated atmospheric tension and Ella’s realistically awkward struggle toward redemption will appeal to fans of literary suspense like that of Jennifer McMahon and Karin Fossum.”
—Booklist, Starred Review