Ordeal (William Wisting #10), by Jørn Lier Horst

Eight stars

In the latest William Wisting novel, Horst takes the reader on another wonderful adventure, where the law and justice meet, if only for a moment. After months of no leads on the case of a missing taxi driver and his vehicle, Wisting is forced to push it to the side. Juggling work and the potential of the early stages of a new relationship, Wisting must also focus on his daughter, Line, who is eight months pregnant and has just returned to raise her child alone. When Line meets an old school friend, Sofie Lund, they rekindle the acquaintance, which leads to a pact of mutual assistance in all areas related to single motherhood. When Sofie reveals that she is living in her grandfather’s old home, Line is more than happy to help her sort things out, which includes getting into an old safe in the basement, the contents of which prove highly suspect. Along with the discovery, Sofie must also admit that her grandfather, Frank Mandt, is a notorious criminal and smuggler from decades past, a mark she wishes to scrub from her life. Along with a stack of money and a pile of cassettes in the safe, Line and Sofie discover an old revolver. Choosing the high road, Line takes it to her father to discard, though police procedure is to run ballistics tests before disposing of anything. These tests tie the gun to a shooting on New Year’s Eve and an airtight trial set to begin the following week. Following some independent leads, Wisting and his team stumble upon an old barn and locate the missing taxi therein. When he receives the ballistic information on the gun and a property search reveals that Frank Mandt is tied to both, clues begin to fall into place, though a motive remains elusive or the proper timeline to have committed the crimes. As the investigation progresses, a body is discovered, though it is still a mystery as to who might be the murderer, with Mandt having no known reason to kill either victim. The more Wisting learns of the gun’s place at the scene of the New Year’s murder, the deeper he digs, even as he is cautioned from messing with the case before the courts. Wisting cannot ignore the call for justice, even if it contradicts all that fills boxes of evidence and witness statements. With the case pushing him in many directions and Line set to have her baby, William Wisting has little time for questions, but will not rest until the real killer is caught. Another wonderful addition to the William Wisting series that is sure to garner Horst more fans.

While there is no shortage of good crime fiction available today, Horst not only competes with other authors, but excels at his craft. His place amongst other Scandinavian writers is strengthened by the clear and precise prose he offers, alongside a story that keeps the reader wondering from one page to the next. Character development is continuous, though it does not take away from the story as a whole. Wisting is a complex character and one who will remain ever-evolving throughout the series, which has reached its tenth instalment. Without trying to draw parallels between Wisting and Harry Hole or Joona Linna, there is surely a strong characteristic that binds these three men, all of whom seek justice and find their own way to deliver it to the public, in their respective authors’ ways. Horst should be applauded for his hard work and, truth be told, stellar delivery, even with the novel being written in Norwegian. That a novel can hold such strength while going through the translation process speaks volumes about its calibre.

Kudos, Mr.Horst for another stellar piece of work. I found myself wondering where things were going from the get-go. Now then, if only we could find a way to get the earlier novels translated into English for me to enjoy.