Book Review: Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp (Jana Berzelius #1)

Marked for Life - Emelie Schepp

I added this book to my wish list a year ago so I’m delighted to finally have “visited” Sweden to see what public prosecutor Jana Berzelius has been up to…

Book Description:

In Lindö, on the Swedish coast, a man has been found brutally murdered in his own home.

The victim, Hans Juhlén, had no shortage of enemies. But the case stalls when a child’s handprint is found inches from where the dead man fell.

Hans Juhlén had no children.

Public prosecutor Jana Berzelius has perfected the art of maintaining a professional distance from her cases. But when the body of a small boy is found – and with him, the weapon that killed Juhlén – Jana’s impenetrability is tested to its limits.

The small body is a bleak reminder that Jana has her own secrets to hide. And if she is to keep them safe, she must find the perpetrator behind these crimes…before the police do.

My Thoughts:

Marked for Life is the first book in the noir trilogy featuring public prosecutor Jana Berzelius – a trilogy I look forward to continuing.

Jana is such a complex and interesting character. I love that Schepp didn’t create your typical main protagonist – Jana is not likeable, in fact, one could argue she’s the opposite, cold, distance, rude and I loved every part of her character. While she wasn’t likeable, her complex character and her will to do whatever she felt was necessary to survive made this novel a layered and interesting read. Schepp not only gives us an insight into the life of the main protagonist but also of her colleagues too, I really like this as it made them come across as real people struggling with the same issues you and me could be struggling with (eg. marriage and money). Schepp has clearly put a lot of thought into her character development and I hope these characters feature alongside Jana in book two. Especially Henrik, his backstory (bar Jana’s) was my favourite, his wife was so controlling – he couldn’t even join the gym without her permission, not even go out jogging without her say so – I mean, what is that all about!

Marked for Life certainly has the cold climate Nordic Noir is so well known for, it doesn’t, however, have the moody atmosphere, that beautiful darkness and I attribute that to Jana being so standoffish, her “programmed” way of life prevented that connection. Don’t miss understand me, the plot is dark, extremely dark, and features disturbing content of rape, violence and child trafficking but it just didn’t have that ‘x-factor’ I yearn for in Noir. However, Schepp did go some way to make up for this in the complexity of the case, it started off as your expected police procedural and then focused more on the rouge actions of Jana conducting her own investigation, making the latter half read like a thriller. Child trafficking cases are common in crime fiction so I appreciate Schepp changing the tempo of this one to keep the reader engaged.

While some elements of the plot were predictable, I didn’t mind because Jana is such a fascinating character due to her cold-hearted nature, and I can’t wait to explore her character further in book two.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

*My thanks to the publisher (HQ) for granting me access to a digital copy of this book via Netgalley*

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp (Jana Berzelius #1)

  1. It’s great to see you still liked this one so much even if it has a cold and unlikeable main character.. it’s not easy to be connected and invested in such a person I think so this must mean Schepp did a great job with how she wrote the story. Great review Janel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Inge, I agree, that connection is important to become invested but I think because we are shown why Jana is that way, you understand (even if you don’t like) her actions. Jana’s unlikeable but I liked her for her unlikeability lol. And I think because it’s just her nature rather than the author tried and failed to make the reader like her – if that makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 😊 half the time, I can’t pronounce their names either but I make up what I think it is in my head and I’m happy as long as no one asked me to say it out loud 😂 I could never talk about Noir books if I had a booktube account. My request for book 2 is currently pending on NG so hopefully I won’t have to wait too long to continue it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous review! You have me totally intrigued by the main character, and I love that she influences the usual darkness we find in the genre because of her personality. Sometimes I love reading about an unlikeable character because they allow us to see what’s around in a different light and their train of thoughts is often different. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Donna 😊 Jana is a likeable unlikeable character haha. I’m starting to realise, as long as you have a connection with a character and they’re well developed, it doesn’t matter if they’re likeable or not. I’ve got my copy of Marked for Revenge so I’m looking forward to continuing this trilogy!


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