Over the first few chapters, I was tempted to just drop it and call it a DNF. The start was tough as leather and not much really happened. But then – holy cow! The author fires up a story where you never know what comes next, where the main figure shows that he still knows how to read between the lines and where the powerful are not willing to see others what they have in mind.


OXEN Das Erste Opfer
by Jens Henrik Jensen
Danehof Trilogy #1
Original Title De Haengte Hunde
Publisher dtv Premium on September 8, 2017
Genre Thriller
Pages 459
Format Softcover
Source Library
Goodreads
✶✶✶✶½ 

Niels Oxen, a highly decorated but heavily traumatized elite soldier, retires to a forest on the Danish mainland. In the loneliness of Jutland, he hopes to escape his inner demons. The opposite happens when, after a nightly visit to the nearby Nørlund Castle, he becomes the prime suspect in a murder case: Hans-Otto Corfitzen, former ambassador and founder of the influential Think-tank, was apparently tortured to death at that castle. Oxen begins to investigate the matter, together with the clever, unadvised intelligence officer Margrethe Franck. The two, sharing a similar fate, only gradually trust each other … (personal translation by ©Vi at Inkvotary).
Story
Niels Oxen wants nothing more but to find his inner peace again and to get rid of the demons. Together with Mr. White, his dog, he lives in the forest from what nature provides. An impulsive idea, to go and take a closer look at a castle he would like to get to know better, brings him into serious trouble. The same night he is there, the owner gets killed and in an instant Oxen is the main suspect.



Style
Jens Henrik Jensen writes to the point. His descriptions are without any unnecessary words. With a few words, you get to know the landscape, the setting of a scene or how a figure looks like. Anything is brought to the reader in a quiet tone and with clarity (don´t worry, you will have to guess until the very end what game the big ones are playing with Oxen) that is great to read.

If you can make it over the first few chapters.

The psychological finesse in this thriller is fantastic. Bit by bit the author reveals how bad Oxen is traumatized, how the flashbacks torture him, and how hard it is to function in a world that does not accept the wounded and traumatized.

Characters
From the very beginning, I was absolutely thrilled how Oxen is dealing with his situation. He knows what happens and how to avoid it. His scars are not visible but the way how he handles his nightmares, how he walks through life and how he thinks about everything – remarkable. Yes, you could judge him for living in the forest, but why? I saw it as a try to heal in a way he feels could be the right one for him. If his plan works, is another story.

The author gives you with Oxen a great insight into a man who has seen evil and who was part of the worst thing mankind can do to itself. And still, that man feels obligated to the truth and seeks justice not only for himself but for others as well.


Conclusion
This novel becomes after the first few chapters a fast-paced read where a brilliant psychological finesse comes to light and you - as the reader - can´t put it down. Good, the cover didn´t convince me at first, but after sneaking around it for quite some time I wanted to give it a try. And it turned out to be a fantastic read. Highly recommended.



Happy reading







Deutsche Rezension

Stil
Zunächst kommt man lesetechnisch fast nicht vom Fleck. Die Geschichte zieht sich wie zähes Leder über die ersten Kapitel, und so schön die darin beschriebene Landschaft stellenweise auch ist, so schwer ist es mir gefallen, da bei der Stange zu bleiben. Doch sobald man die „überwunden hat“ nimmt die Handlung an Fahrt auf und der Autor präsentiert eine abwechslungsreiche und spannungsgeladene Story die einen richtig fesselt.

Die Hauptfigur, der Elitesoldat Niels Oxen, nimmt den Leser auf unvergleichliche Weise für sich ein und dadurch, dass der Autor auch die Handlungen der anderen Akteure zeigt, weiß man oft deutlich mehr als Oxen selbst. Aber er ist schlau, auch wenn er erst ein wenig in seinem Gedächtnis graben muss, bevor er die Dinge anfängt zu erkennen.

Charaktere
Die Figur des Elitesoldaten Niels Oxen hat mich von Anfang an begeistert. Nach und nach bekommt man einen Einblick in seinen Charakter und dann war ich fasziniert. Das ist ein Mann mit Ecken und Kanten und einem schweren Trauma. Er mag es nicht zugeben, aber allein die Tatsache, dass er sich in die Wildnis begibt, um von dem zu leben, was die Natur bietet, das zeigt schon, dass er durchaus weiß, dass bei ihm so einiges nicht stimmt. Seine Kombinationsgabe scheint davon aber nicht betroffen zu sein. Denn er merkt schnell, dass an dem Angebot von Mossman etwas faul ist und fängt an die Suche nach dem wahren Mörder auf seine ganz eigene Art zu erledigen.


Resultat
Das war brillant. Ein Thriller, der nicht gleich in die vollen geht und mit einer Hauptfigur überzeugt, die anders ist als andere. Gut, das Cover finde ich jetzt nicht so toll und ich bin auch eine ganze Weile darum herumgeschlichen, ehe ich mich entschloss es zu lesen. Dann jedoch hat es sich zu einem überraschenden Lesegenuss entwickelt. Höchst empfehlenswert.


Jens Henrik Jensen
Jens Henrik Jensen ©Heike Bogenberger bogenberger Autorenfotos




Jens Henrik Jensen was born in 1963 in Søvind, Denmark. He has worked as a journalist for 25 years and worked for the daily newspaper “JydskeVestkysten in various capacities, including as editor and head of department. Since 2015 he has devoted himself entirely to the writing of books. His debut novel, Wienerringen, was published in 1997 and in the following years, he published the Kazanzki-Trilogy and the Nina-Portland-series. As part of the research for his books, Jensen traveled to Murmansk, Krakow and through the Balkans. Further travels took him to Australia and New Zealand as well as to North and South America. The three volumes of the OXEN series, which appeared in Denmark from 2012 to 2016, are at the top of the bestseller lists, having already been sold in ten countries, and SF Studios secured the film rights. In 2017, Jens Henrik Jensen won the Danish Crime Award. He lives with his wife and two sons in his hometown.


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