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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

The Bloodline Will by A.B Morgan (Review)

Hey guys! I hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend! Today I’m on the tour for The Bloodline Will by A.B Morgan. It’s out now in both Paperback and Kindle formats and is available as part of Kindle Unlimited.

The Bloodline Will is the second book in the Second Chance Investigations series. I didn’t read the previous one, and while doing so would have provided a little more context for the situation in the start of the book – the main character being in psychiatric care, it reads perfectly fine as a standalone. I’d like to go back and read the first one now though.

Ella Fitzwilliam is in a facility, rather than prison after having her life blown up by Konrad Neale; a journalist who exploited her for his own career. He goes to visit her in the facility to apologise but also see’s Abigail Nithercott – the wife of a well known businessman, wealthy and usually kept out of the public eye. Konrad is obsessed with the family, convinced they’re hiding something and wants to unveil it. In that moment, he decides to once again, use Ella to achieve his goal.

The doctor overseeing Ella’s care doesn’t seem very professional nor does she treat her patients very well. It turns out, Konrad’s wife, Lorna, has decided she wants to help Ella and her case (Ella doesn’t want to be held indefinitely, she would rather go to prison and do her time) and in a way, make amends for what Konrad did to her. After hearing about Dr Yellnow, they uncover that her doctor is not who she says she is and it really changes the tide of things. Because of all of that, Ella is able to be released. The details aren’t really gone in to, but I don’t think they need to. However, the incident isn’t really revisited and I kind of wish it was. I want to know what happened with that doctor and the other patients that are mentioned early on in the book.

The pace is comfortable and steady and I find myself really taking a liking to Ella and the people she ends up surrounding herself with. Konrad seems like a terrible person at first, but I think morality catches up to him a little. It’s a really nice cast of characters, especially Mal; Ella’s new PI partner. I found myself drawn in, also fascinated to find out what the deal was with Abigail Nithercott. Did she actually have problems or was she putting it on? Or both? What was the big family secret? I got reeled in as more details came to light, including somethings I didn’t expect. One thing I knew of for sure though – I do not like the Nithercotts.

The pace picks up late in the book as several characters go to attend a pre-opening session of a new local venture. It turns out to be packed with drama and the truth is revealed. The Nithercotts big secret.

I really enjoyed this book, it was interesting and exciting. I always hesitate a little when I see that mental health patients will be depicted, but I trusted in the authors background (a former mental health nurse) and she didn’t disappoint. I was so pleased that Ella wasn’t depicted as a “crazy person” or that people with her diagnosis are unstable and dangerous. I feel a point was made that with the right treatment and medication, Ella could live a normal life, she just needed a chance and the right help and I feel this is very important. So often are mental health patients depicted as if manic episodes are the norm for everyone, it made me really happy that this wasn’t the case. There was a huge contrast between Ella and Abigail and quite a point about how Abigail did NOT get the help she should have, but nor did she seem to want it. I thought it was quite insightful. Waffling on a little here, I know, but I feel it was something worthy of acknowledging and noting.

Overall, I would indeed recommend this book, I’d also suggest reading the previous installment first to give that extra context to this book. I found this review a challenge to write without including spoilers because there’s a surprising amount of drama in this book and that really kept me interested.

About the Book

He made a mistake, and for the sake of his future career, investigative reporter Konrad Neale must apologise in person to Ella Fitzwilliam.

Detained under section in a secure forensic unit, she doesn’t foresee a bright future. And she despises Konrad for exploiting her and exaggerating the truth about what she really did.

All in the name of journalism

However, when he spots famous recluse Abigail Nithercott in the same facility, he cannot resist the chance to scoop the next big story.

But must use Ella to uncover the dark Nithercott family secret.

Blood. Thicker than water, it spills…

Some family trees have to die.

book reviews · Bookish

Runaway by Claire MacLeary (Review)

Today I am on the tour for Runaway by Claire Macleary and have a review for you! The book is available now in both Paperback and Kindle editions. I was provided a copy of the book for this review.

Runaway is the third book in a series by Claire MacLeary. This book was my introduction to the series as I haven’t read the previous installments, but I am pleased to say that it does perfectly well as a standalone.

The book is written from a few perspectives, but it’s mainly about Maggie and Wilma, a PI duo who have been brought in by Scott – his wife is missing and he has no idea why. Of course, he reported it to the police. It’s the first thing he did, they weren’t having any success, so he turns to the women to help him find his wife.

Maggie and Wilma have a bit of a strange relationship and they both have different ideas about their detective agency. None the less, after some convincing, they’re set on helping Scott to find his wife, but are wary of the police after previous involvements and complications with them in a previous case. We are given a vague overview of that situation, but I would imagine it’s detailed in the previous installments of the series. The police themselves are unhappy when they find out that the women are on the case, and their force seems tense after the aforementioned complications.

Maggie is my favourite character of the book, she seems strong willed and is trying really hard to balance her family life and her work. She has a lippy daughter and the patience of a saint as a result. She seems far more responsible than Wilma. Together, they are a weird duo, but it works!

I found this book to be pretty amusing, not so much that it detracted from the seriousness of the case, but enough to add a little more to it that made it all the more enjoyable. Though there is some of the book that is written in what I can only describe to be pure Scottish which someone who is unfamiliar with Scottish dialect or to whom English is a second language may have difficulties with. Personally, I had no issue with it and understood it just fine, but I feel like it’s an important point to mention, just in case this is something that would affect you personally and this after all, a review.

Maggie’s daughter clearly has some iffy acquaintances, one of whom decides a nap in a skip is a sterling idea, even with the stink and a urine soaked duvet.. until he discovers a human arm. It takes a little while before the story circles back to that, but from that point, I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what was happening. Was it going to be Scott’s wife?

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and following both the pair of PI’s and the detective team investigating the case and the relationships between them both teams on the case were really interesting to me too. All in all, I really enjoyed this book, it was entertaining, well written and I’m sure the other books are no different; I’ll be adding the previous installments on to my ever growing TBR!

About the Book

The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.

Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.

Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.