Only One Life

Only One Life

3.6 6
by Sara Blaedel

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Jealousy, obsession, and family honor have fatal consequences for an immigrant community on the fringes of seemingly idyllic Copenhagen society.


Jealousy, obsession, and family honor have fatal consequences for an immigrant community on the fringes of seemingly idyllic Copenhagen society.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Blaedel’s earnest second police procedural to be published in the U.S. (after 2011’s Call Me Princess), Copenhagen cop Louise Rick looks into the death of 15-year-old Samra al-Abd, a member of the city’s close-knit community of Jordanian immigrants, found in shallow water of a nearby fjord weighed down with concrete. Is this an unfortunate but mundane murder, or an honor killing, a family turning on one of its own? The subsequent fatal bludgeoning of Samra’s best friend, Dicta Møller, confuses the issue. Hostile, judgmental Danish media spotlight Samra’s violent family history as Rick and her colleagues struggle to find the truth behind the two girls’ murders. The novel presents a nuanced and compassionate view of modern Copenhagen’s immigrants, eschewing a simple-minded demonization of outsiders or of the Danes themselves, but the workmanlike prose and flat depiction of the investigation make the story less engaging than it should be. (Sept.)
Camilla Läckberg
“Exciting and thrilling. Blaedel is at the top of her game and a star on the rise.”
Kirkus Reviews
What looks depressingly like the honor killing of a young Jordanian immigrant takes Louise Rick from the Copenhagen Police Department to a special assignment in the town of Holbæk. Why would someone strangle a ninth-grade student and sink her body in Udby Cove? At 15, Samra al-Abd wasn't old enough to have serious enemies; according to her protective parents Ibrahim and Sada, she wasn't even old enough to have a boyfriend. And surely Benedicta Møller, the friend who reported her missing, couldn't possibly have hated her enough to kill her or gotten access to the boat that must have been used to dispose of her body. In the absence of any other leads, the Mobile Task Force to which Louise (Call Me Princess, 2011) has been assigned looks inside her family for suspects, even though that's the last place they'd look if the victim weren't Muslim. So does Louise's friend, crime reporter Camilla Lind, whose editor ups the ante further by slapping an incendiary headline on the story she's struggled to make evenhanded. The only thing that could possibly undermine the assumption that someone in Samra's family killed her to protect their reputation after she committed some unforgivable sin that Louise has yet to discover is another murder, and that's exactly what happens when Dicta Møller is found dead. Given the dramatically different crime scenes, it's hard to believe that the same killer is responsible for both. Yet what are the odds that two murderers are walking the streets of Holbæk targeting schoolgirls? Conventionally shaped and a bit slow-moving, but distinguished from the increasingly crowded pack of Scandinavian imports by its open-mindedness in handling sensitive material and its respect for the dignity of every single character and viewpoint.
Karin Slaughter
“Sara Blaedel is a force to be reckoned with. She delivers an engaging story that any reader in the world can enjoy.”
Camilla Lackberg
“Exciting and thrilling. Blaedel is at the top of her game and a star on the rise.”

Product Details

Publication date:
Pegasus Crime Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Sara Blaedel is the author of the international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick and journalist Camilla Lind, including Call Me Princess and Only One Life. Her books are published in seventeen countries. She lives in Copenhagen, and was voted Denmark's most popular novelist for the third time in 2011.

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Only One Life: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A brief straight cataloging and summary one page is needed
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
Only One Life by Sara Blædel is a fic­tional mys­tery book set in Den­mark. This is the sec­ond book trans­lated into Eng­lish in the series fea­tur­ing Detec­tive Louise Rick. When a young girl is found in a watery grave of Hol­braek Fjord , Inspec­tor Louise Rick is called due to her expe­ri­ence, knowl­edge and tact­ful­ness with immi­grants. The dead girl, as it turned out, is Samra, who lived in a new coun­try, while her par­ents enforced old tra­di­tions. Samra’s mother main­tains that she did noth­ing to “deserve” an honor killing, but Inspec­tor Rick can detect that there is more than meets the eye. Only One Life by Sara Blædel lives up to the pre­vi­ous novel, Call Me Princess, which I read about a year ago and enjoyed as well. The book is excit­ing and the char­ac­ters are well writ­ten and con­tinue to build up and expand from the pre­vi­ous book (even though I under­stand that there are more untrans­lated books). The book touches on some rel­e­vant top­ics, such as honor killing, social intol­er­ance and sex­ual based crimes. The author explores these sub­jects, and more, with­out forc­ing her own moral­ity or ide­ol­ogy down the read­ers’ throats, which is a big plus for me. I love to read about dif­fer­ent cul­tures and ideas, but I dis­like absolutes. Ms. Blædel stays away from giv­ing advice but sup­ply­ing plenty of mate­r­ial to think about dur­ing and after reading. There are sev­eral things I like about Ms. Blædel’s work, the social aspect and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion come imme­di­ately to mind. The author writes about a con­scious soci­ety, while not per­fect it cer­tainly isn’t the dog-eat-dog world which we read about in other books. I also like the char­ac­ter of Louise Rick, not a clas­sic hero nor is she an anti-hero, just a sim­ple work­ing pro­fes­sional who makes mis­takes, gets emo­tional, some­times frus­trated with her jobs, col­leagues and her friends. Basi­cally, a human being. Only One Life is an intel­li­gent mys­tery, with a mur­der as a device to tell a story about peo­ple while bring­ing up some impor­tant ques­tions. The book is solid, well trans­lated and read­able which is an amaz­ing feat due to the heavy sub­jects it tries to deal with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't think it was all that great, but others might. To me all the characters seemed like the author. Right off the bat I got lost trying to place in my head who was who, then when I thought I had it down I found out I had it wrong, anyway I didn't make it even a 1/4 of the way before I gave up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MargoH More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating but disturbing look at problems faced by immigrants to a new and vastly different culture. In this case, the story revolves around a Jordanian Muslim family emigrating to Denmark. The 15-year-old daughter of the Jordanian family is found murdered and, later also her Danish girlfriend and classmate. The story describes the attempts of the Danish police to solve the crimes. The Jordanian family comes from a culture where “honor killings” are not uncommon – where a family member kills by another family member who has somehow disgraced the family, thereby supposedly restoring the honor of the family in the eyes of the extended family and the community. Assuming that this has happened to the Jordanian girl, the surrounding Danish community is up in arms and is of course appalled that anyone could possibly think that murdering one’s own daughter is more honorable than a daughter not dating a Danish boy. The author is similarly appalled but seems to be suggesting that honor killing in general is strictly a cultural phenomenon and has nothing to do with the Muslim religion. But this view seems to me a bit naïve because it seems clear that anyone (like me) who has grown up in any controlling religious community culture (not necessarily Muslim) knows that the mandates of a controlling religion are absolutely crucial in determining allowed cultural behavior. I found this novel absorbing and a fast read. The book is well-written and the ending is satisfying and somewhat surprising. The author includes much descriptive detail. Most of the detail enhances the book, but some of it, especially around the middle of the novel, seems to have little to do with the plot. On the whole, I found the novel to be well worth the time and money.