Ashes to Strength: Criminals Never Forget
by Steinar Kruse
AuthorHouse UK

"I have endured great pain inside of me ever since the day it happened, and not a day has gone by that I did not think about you or both of you."

Kruse’s globe-trotting, time-leaping mystery opens with a singular moment that irrevocably changes lives. One evening in 1965, nine-year-old TJ (Tehya Jane) is the sudden victim of rape along with her mother. Later, TJ is found half-naked by the Canadian police, the cabin is on fire, two are dead, and there are no immediate answers to the horrific events. The lasting effects of this incident remain deep and reach far into the future, affecting multiple lives.

The book then fast-forwards to 2005 and the funeral of TJ’s father, Nils Henrick. TJ is not present, but instead Nils’s oldest son Henrik is there. He joins his father’s lawyer, Conrad, in understanding the puzzling circumstances involving his father’s will and a safety deposit box. During their investigation, they piece together clues regarding several cases that are interconnected with Nils’ and TJ’s pasts. As the investigation deepens, lives converge, and secrets are revealed when TJ, still traumatized by the abuses of her past, joins the investigation that leads to a surprise revelation.

There is much that happens in Kruse’s hefty but easy-to-read novel. The first half of the book is dense with the continual shifts in time between the past and present and the inclusion of weighty, historical details. One needs to pay close attention to avoid confusion. All of it sets up the second half, where Kruse has a tighter control on the narrative and remains in the present, focusing primarily on the mystery surrounding the 1965 cabin fire. Kruse’s unconventional mystery and police procedural boasts a large cast of international, supporting characters throughout. Though he takes his time with the story, action, crime, and convoluted relationships abound in Kruse’s ambitious and intriguing read.

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