Death Deserved, by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger

Eight stars

When I learned that Jørn Lier Horst was writing a new series, I have to get my hands on it. Collaborating with Thomas Enger (about whom I know nothing), I was hoping for something as exciting coming from this Norwegian duo. Alex Blix is a Violent Crimes detective working in Oslo, having risen through the ranks over the years. When he is called to the scene of a missing woman, it turns out that she is a well-known sports personality. Blix encounters an eager journalist, Emma Ramm, who wants a scoop for her publication. Blix is hesitant to leak her much of anything, not wanting to anger the higher-ups or jeopardise the case. While working the case, Blix is saddled with a new hire, hoping that she will be independent and allow him to continue making progress on the case. Soon, another sports personality hits the headlines, this one a murdered footballer who was found on the property of the missing woman. Blix and Ramm begin to join forces and find that there have been other killings, all of which fit a crazy pattern. Able to loosely predict who might be next, Blix and Ramm seek to stay one step ahead of the game. All the while, Blix’s daughter is a contestant on a reality show in Norway that has everyone buzzing. Will she win and how will this notoriety reflect on her father? With a serial killer on the loose, Alex Blix has no time to waste, while Emma Ramm seeks to find the perfect headline to coax them out of the shadows. A wonderfully chilling thriller that shows yet again that writing quality can cross the language barrier, given the proper handling. Recommended to those who enjoy Horst’s other work, as well as the reader who finds solace in Scandinavian thrillers.

I am not sure that I can say why, but I thoroughly enjoy reading books set in Scandinavia, particularly by authors from the region. They are usually of such high quality and their translation into English is never something that ruins the flow. Jørn Lier Horst Is one of the best I have encountered, though I know other readers have a list they could offer me. Alex Blix proves to be a wonderful protagonist who holds onto a dark past, which comes out in the preface. His attention to detail and desire to solve crimes is apparent throughout, though he has a number of stumbling blocks, not least of which being his independent streak. The authors develop him nicely here and I am eager to see how he will grow as the series continues. Emma Ramm does not receive as much attention in this piece, but her position is surely one the authors can add to, given the opportunity. The Blix-Ramm pairing will work well, playing both sides of the coin to develop a strong story. The narrative itself flowed very well, mixing brief chapters with longer ones and peppering in the perfect amount of dialogue. I find that reading these books, I get lost in a lot of the references, as they are local and unpronounceable to me, but the overall experience is one that I adore. Horst and Enger work well together, as the piece flows so easily as to be devoured in short order. I see a sequel has been written (though not yet released in English). I am eager to see how it will play out and cannot wait to read that book as well.

Kudos, Messrs. Horst and Enger, for a strong opening book in the series. I hope your collaborative efforts continue, but I do want more translated William Wistling (hint, Mr. Horst).

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: