Review: Jorn Lier Horst – Ordeal

9781910124758This is my second blog tour in a week which is unusual for me as I don’t normally take part in them. They’re wonderful things but I never seem to be able to read to a particular deadline. However, I definitely wanted to take part in this one as I’m a huge fan of Lier Horst’s writing. I think I’ve reviewed all this English translations on this blog and Ordeal is a worthy addition to the series.

Taxi driver Jens Hummel disappeared six months previously and Larvik detective William Wisting has been criticised for failing to solve the case. Now, evidence suggests Hummel was killed by Danny Brodin who is already in prison for murder. Meanwhile, Wisting’s daughter, Line, helps her friend, Sophie, open a safe inside her grandfather’s house and discovers an old gun and piles of cash. Sophie, already resentful of dead grandfather, tries to cover up the discovery dragging Line into her deception.

Lier Horst’s books are always an excellent mix of police procedural and character study which give them a special place in Scandinavian crime fiction. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, the highlight of his writing is the relationship between William Wisting and his daughter. Line is now eight months pregnant following the brief fling she had in the previous novel, The Caveman. Line deliberately gives a misleading statement yet Wisting is sensitive to her predicament in staying loyal to her friend. It’s the portrayal of a loving father aware of his daughter’s idiosyncrasies. The town of Larvik is the perfect setting for Lier Horst’s plots: mixing provincial attitudes alongside encroaching twenty-first century problems of increased drugs and violent crime.

Hugely popular in Scandinavia, Lier Horst deserves a much wider audience in the UK and, hopefully, Ordeal will bring him new English-reading fans.

More Scandi Crime Fiction

My reading at the moment is oscillating between Scandinavian crime fiction for the Petrona Award and ghost stories that bring back memories of my teenage years. More of the supernatural in a post next week. Meanwhile, all the Scandi books that I read were by familiar authors and it was a bit of a mixed bag.

 MemoRandom by Anders de la Motte is his take on a familiar trope of crime novels, that of y450-293memory loss. David Sarac wakes up from a car crash and can only remember that he is a police officer and he needs to protect his informant, Janus. As his colleagues desperately try to elicit the identity of Janus, Sarac’s memory returns only in fragments. Natalie Aden, his carer who has also been tasked with spying on him, helps him piece his past together as his life becomes increasingly endangered. As I’d expect from De La Motte,  MemoRandom is a fast-paced thriller with an entertaining storyline. There’s always something enjoyable about a book with a race to the conclusion. The translation was by Neil Smith.

I’m a big fan of Arnaldur Indridason but Oblivion proved to be a disappointment. There51jsnkgzk9l-_sx328_bo1204203200_ were all the elements that I enjoy in Indridason’s writing – the Icelandic landscape, the descriptions of native food and, of course, his detective Erlendur. While the writing was good, I found the plot to be lacklustre which is a shame as I persevered with it until the end. It’s a decent enough read and sits alongside the other books well enough. Fingers crossed for the next one. The translation was by Victoria Cribb.

9781910124048In comparison The Caveman by Jorn Lier Horst is a cracker and his best book yet. There are two storylines both of which were fascinating. William Wisting is investigating a serial killer who may have made his way from the US to Norway. The presence of CIA agents adds to the pressure on his team to find the murderer. Meanwhile, Wisting’s daughter, Line, is doing a story on a man whose body was sitting, undiscovered, in his living room for four months. Focusing on the loneliness of some Norwegians, she soon realises that there is more to the man’s death than a sad story. Lier Horst has always excelled as a writer of police procedurals but here the story telling is second to none. I didn’t want the book to finish as I was so engrossed in the narrative. More please! The translation was by Anne Bruce.

 

 

 

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.

The 2014 Petrona Award for the Best of Scandinavian Crime Fiction – Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2014 award is as follows:petronaaward2

CLOSED FOR WINTER by Jørn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press)

STRANGE SHORES by Arnaldur Indriðason tr. Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker)

THE WEEPING GIRL by Håkan Nesser tr. Laurie Thompson (Mantle)

LINDA, AS IN THE LINDA MURDER by Leif G W Persson tr. Neil Smith (Doubleday)

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir tr. Philip Roughton (Hodder & Stoughton)

LIGHT IN A DARK HOUSE by Jan Costin Wagner tr. Anthea Bell (Harvill Secker)

There were a number of strong contenders for the 2014 award and deciding on with the shortlist provoked plenty of lively debate amongst us judges. The winner will be announced in Crimefest in May. More details of the award can be found at the Petrona Award website.

The judges’ comments on the shortlist are as follows:

CLOSED FOR WINTER: This highly atmospheric novel sees Chief Inspector Wisting investigate an off-season burglary and a disturbing case of murder on the Norwegian coast of Vestfold. As ever, author Jørn Lier Horst’s police background lends the novel a striking authenticity, with readers treated to the outstanding plotting and characterisation that typify this quality series.

 

STRANGE SHORES: Drawn back to his childhood home by the unresolved disappearance of his brother, Inspector Erlendur takes on the most personal and difficult case of his career. Exploring the series’ enduring themes of loss and the impact of Iceland’s twentieth-century social transformation, this remarkable valedictory novel is one of the finest by a truly incisive writer, the undisputed king of Icelandic crime fiction.

 

THE WEEPING GIRL: While supposedly on holiday, Detective Inspector Ewa Moreno is pulled into the case of a missing teenage girl and the much earlier murder of a woman. This quietly compelling novel from Swedish author Håkan Nesser, with its distinctive European feel, is full of the assurance readers have come to expect from the Van Veeteren series. There is not a single misstep as the grim implications of the narrative are teased out.

 

LINDA, AS IN THE LINDA MURDER:  Leif G W Persson’s sprawling, state-of-the-nation novels make deft use of crime fiction conventions to expose the faultlines of Swedish society. This more closely focused novel is a brilliant exploration of a young woman’s murder, press sensationalism, and the inner workings of a police investigation, with readers introduced to the blackly humorous and truly unforgettable police detective Evert Bäckström for the first time.

 

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME: When a young man with Down’s Syndrome is convicted of arson and murder, lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir is hired by one of his fellow inmates to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice. This ambitious Icelandic crime novel, which skilfully weaves multiple narrative strands together with elements of the supernatural, is another gripping and highly entertaining read from author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

 

LIGHT IN A DARK HOUSE: Still mourning the loss of his wife, Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa is called to investigate the strange murder of a comatose woman in hospital. German author Jan Costin Wagner delivers another wonderfully written and tightly constructed instalment in the Joentaa series, notable for its moving portrayal of a grief-stricken policeman and its in-depth exploration of victim and perpetrator psychology.