Review: Jorn Lier Horst – The Hunting Dogs

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailJorn Lier Horst’s previous book, Closed for Winter, was on the shortlist for the 2013 Petrona Award for Scandinavian Crime Fiction. His crime novels have only recently been translated into English and the series featuring Chief Inspector William Wisting, if hits to this blog are anything to go by, has been well received over here. I like the books because, although Horst clearly uses his experience as a murder detective to add accurate detail to the narrative, police procedure is never allowed to overshadow the story.

In The Hunting Dogs, Wisting’s role in a murder case years earlier comes under scrutiny when it is discovered that evidence was falsified during the original investigation. Suspended from duty, he uses his enforced inactivity to look more closely into the case and discover where errors were made. Wisting’s journalist daughter, Line, is also investigating a murder on a street in Larvik. In the pursuit of a story for her newspaper she also becomes drawn into helping her father prove his innocence.

There’s something fascinating about the reopening of an old investigation. I think it’s a mixture of the uneasy dead waiting for final closure but also the fact that these cases can rest heavily on the original detectives. The death of Cecilia Linde hasn’t lost any of its poignancy, even after a significant lapse in time, and the reader is firmly behind Wisting as he tries to find out who compromised the original investigation. Like Horst’s earlier books, The Hunting Dogs is well balanced between police investigation and family ties. The relationship between William and Line is explored further in the book and conveys the love and respect between this father and daughter.

The Hunting Dogs is a more substantial read than either Dregs or Closed for Winter.  Winner of The Glass Key for the top Nordic crime novel in 2013, it’s my favourite book so far in this excellent series.

Thanks to Sandstone Press for my copy of the book. The translation was by Anne Bruce.

20 thoughts on “Review: Jorn Lier Horst – The Hunting Dogs

  1. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – I completely agree. I’m especially drawn to murder investigations where old cases are re-opened. And I do like the William Wisting character. Thanks as ever for an excellent review.


  2. While the reopening of old cases and investigations, and thereby old wounds, is fairly common in crime fiction, Jorn Lier Horst appears to have been innovative in his treatment of the theme, casting a father and his daughter together in the main scheme of things. Judging by your fine review, Sarah, I think he has pulled it off well.


  3. I am still wavering on this author because the translated books start in the middle of the series. But, if I find one somewhere I will go ahead and try the series. Should I start with Dregs, or would either of the others be fine to start with?


    1. Hi Tracy. You can start with any one. In fact, the last two books have a useful summary written by the author of how the series has developed. I personally am happy to pick up a book anywhere in the series but I know others like to start from the beginning. ‘Dregs’ is the first book to be translated into English.


      1. That is interesting about the summary from the author with the last two books. I will keep that in mind as I look around for his books.

        I am trying to be more open minded about starting series in the middle, because there are far too many books I want to read to go back to the beginning for each, but in this case it sounded like Dregs did not fill in enough of the back story.


  4. I do like the sound of this, and, although I’d never really thought about it before, I entirely agree with your comment that cold cases have an added poignancy. They are in effect two investigations: an investigation into the murder, and one into the original murder investigation. I also agree with TracyK – it is irritating when publishers start to release a series but not from the start. That might also be inclined, in some cases, to make me wait, but your review of this one makes me want it now! Can I just add how refreshing it is to have a normal father/child relationship in a crime novel? (Especially a Scandinavian one – that comment should also cover tv series!) Thanks Sarah, for pointing me in the direction of an author I might never have come across – or at least for some time!


    1. I’ve read lots of Scandi novels and very few of them are translated from the first book. Even Jo Nesbo’s early books are only now being translated.

      I agree about the need for normalcy in crime fiction. The genre is awash with oddities and strange quirks that we sometimes forget that policemen are ordinary people too with family relationships which aren’t always associated with angst.


    1. I looked on Amazon, and Dregs is about half the price of Closed for Winter, so although I really want to read Closed for Winter, my purse says Dregs. Although I have downloaded a sample of each, so you never know….


  5. Good to hear that a father-daughter relationship is explored more in this series. Reminds one of Wallander/Linda Wallender, but Mankell could have maybe explored it more, but the timeline of the novels probably didn’t match and Wallander was also nearing retirement at that time.

    Rankin too hinted at developing the relationship between Rebus and his daughter, but didn’t follow through it.

    The canvas all 3 of Horst’s book are intriguing, looking forward to read them.


    1. I agree and I’ll look forward to your views on Horst. I think he’s slightly different from the other Norwegian writers and I always enjoy his books.


  6. Kathy D.

    Groan. I haven’t yet read Dregs, but it’s on my TBR stack.
    On these books, I’m for trying to get libraries to carry them, if possible. Sometimes the requests actually result in the library ordering the books.
    Sounds like a good one, but I’ll start with Dregs since I have it.


  7. Pingback: Interview, Reviews, and What-Not | Scandinavian Crime Fiction

  8. Pingback: Review: The Hunting Dogs by Jørn Lier Horst | The Game's Afoot

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