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Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl (Review)

Happy humpday! Today, I am delighted to be on the blog tour for Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl (Translated by Don Bartlett). It’s a Nordic Noir so I couldn’t say no, could I! I was gifted a copy of the book for review purposes.

About the Book

Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death.

Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run…

A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.

Review

Sister is the 8th book in the Oslo Detective series. This book was my first introduction to the series and reads perfectly well as a stand alone. It’s translated from Norwegian but reads perfectly well, you’d never guess it wasn’t in it’s native language. Very little gives it away as a translated version.

The characters are brilliantly written and it doesn’t seem to matter at all that I don’t have the previous books for extra context to their characters; though I’m sure I’d benefit from reading those too. The protagonist is excellent, with a lot of depth. He’s not just a straight up good guy, he has his demons, his own battles and this makes him a superbly interesting character.

Frank Frølich is working as private investigator. While away doing some work for a retailer who believes a staff member is skimming off the inventory, he decides to pop in to a quiet cafe and strikes up a conversation with the working staff member, Mathilde. They end up taking a liking to each other and begin a relationship. A short while after dating, Mathilde mentions she has a friend who’s seeking a PI. Unsure about how likely he is to be paid by the job, Frank agrees to at least talk to her friend Guri.

Guri explains that she is trying to assist an asylum seeker who came to Norway a few years after her sister. The young woman is now facing deportation and can’t seem to find her sister anywhere. She claims that returning to home country will likely result in her death. Frølich agrees to help and finds the sister pretty quickly, but things aren’t quite as they seem. An author visits him, questioning why Frank is investigating. Shortly after, the author turns up dead.

It doesn’t take long for Frank to find the woman. Supposedly, she doesn’t even have a sister. During the course of his investigation, he’s warned off the case and several people turn up dead and now he is under suspicion too. This only serves to egg him on to discover what is actually going on, stepping in to the dark truths about illegal immigrants in Norway. There are a whole lot of red flags and things that just aren’t quite right.

Incredibly well written, well paced and pretty darn intense, Sister really gets you hooked. Just as soon as you think maybe you know what’s going on.. BAM! Curveball! I hate to use the trope “twists and turns” but it really does. So much comes under examination and if you blink, you’ll miss it. You really have to pay attention to this one. There is a lot going on. I felt like I was part of the investigation and had to figure out this case alongside Frank Frølich. Excellent for those who like to do their own share of the sleuthing while they’re reading!

book reviews · Bookish

Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen (Review)

Hello! Today I am on the blog tour for Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen and I am bringing you a review! This book is out now and available in Paperback, Kindle and Audiobook editions. I received a copy of this book for free as part of the tour.

Varg Veum is a private detective, operating out of Bergen, Norway. Previously accused of pedophilia, after images were planted on his computer, Varg has been trying to pick up the pieces after he was proven innocent, but his name still tainted.

One day, someone attempts to run Varg down. Around the same time, he has discovered that two people in the aforementioned pedophile case had died, but he senses something is amiss. Nobody has commissioned him to do so, but he decides to investigate their deaths and discovers the dark truth about the people involved in the case.

The books main theme is a case about the deaths of two pedophiles and mentions child abuse including that which occurs in a family setting. Some readers may find this triggering.

The book is translated from Norweigan, but it is well written and immersive. I found it to be suspenseful and really easy to settle in to and I guess that’s thanks to the author also being from Bergen. The nouns threw me off because I spent a while contemplating how they’d be pronounced, but that was all the more interesting to me and I was glad they didn’t anglicize the names. As an English reader, I really enjoyed the foreign setting.

The ending was punchy, hard hitting and satisfying and I was really pleased with the outcome and how the author wrapped the book up. It’s part of a series, but it read just fine as a standalone and I don’t feel overly baited to the next installment – although, I’d be interested to reading it, for sure!

About the Book

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

Fearing for his life, Veum begins to investigate the old case, interviewing the victims of abuse and delving deeper into the brutal crimes, with shocking results. The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance.

About the Author

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for crime fiction. He lives with his wife in Bergen.