Dregs, by Jorn Lier Horst

Four and a half stars (of five)

In an attempt to expand my literary horizons, I took it upon myself to introduce myself to Jorn Lier Horst, acclaimed Scandinavian mystery writer. Chief Inspector William Wisting has a great deal of experience with police work in Norway, as well as its dark underbelly. After a shoe washes ashore with a left foot still inside, Wisting cannot tell if this is foul play or some horrible accident. When a second shoe turns up, also containing a left foot, Wisting must begin to wonder if there is a disaster out at sea, or is a murderer is dismembering victims and trying to destroy the evidence. Could these feet have anything to do with a number of recent disappearances in the area as well? As Wisting continues to probe, his daughter, Line, undertakes a project of her own, interviewing some of Norway’s most notorious killers to write news articles documenting their progress. Line sets out to dig deeper and offer the generl public insight into the role prison plays in rehabilitation. When Line’s interviewees have ties to those who have gone missing, Wisting cannot help but wonder if there is a larger, and more sinister, game at play. A wonderful English introduction to a well-established author is sure to make waves in the mystery genre.

Horst joins the ranks of Lars Keplar and Soren Hammer in creating an interesting mystery that surpasses the language barrier. He is able to present both the mystery, as well as a keen characterisation of Norway’s political and social lifestyle, unknown to many outside the region. Horst also aptly titles his book, drawing parallels between the severed feet and the criminal outcasts Line interviews, both the dregs of society. The story and the characters reflect both the unique Scandinavian flavour of a crime procedural, but also show ties with the more familiar Western judicial system, making the story easily digestible by the masses. The reader is in for a treat, with short chapters full of information and teasers, which propel the story forward in an easy manner. Bring on the second (English translated) novel, as I want to learn more about this Wisting character.

Kudos, Mr. Horst for this wonderfully crafted novel. I hope to see more action and character development as we proceed.