Unhinged (DI Alexander Blix and Emma Ramm #3), by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst

Eight stars

Back to read the latest collaborative work between Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, I had high expectations. The pair have crafted a great series that taps into many aspects of crime and investigation, using strong protagonists to get their point across. While at a speaking engagement, DI Alexander Blix receives numerous calls from one of his colleagues and his daughter. It is only later that he learns that a gunman entered their flat and killed the police officer. When Blix insists his daughter receive some therapy, things go awry as she is kidnapped from the office and held captive. Blix takes matters into his own hands and kills that man holding his daughter. However, questions arise as to whether this was the shooter, or if Blix was blinded by rage and simply shot a man for his own revenge. Horst and Enger work their magic again in this stunning piece!

While Detective Inspector Alexander Blix is speaking to a large group, he receives several calls on his mobile, both from Inspector Sofia Konica and his own daughter, Iselin. It is only after the fact that Blix learns of the horror they went through, where Kovic was murdered, execution style, and Iselin barely escaped the killer as she hid in her apartment below. Blix begins trying to piece it all together, working with crime reporter, Emma Ramm, only to learn that Kovic had been working on some corruption within the department.

After convicting Iselin to receive some therapy from one of the psychologists on staff, Blix feels slightly at ease, especially when Emma agrees to take her. Things get turned on their head when Iselin is kidnapped from the office and taken into custody, fuelling Blix’s desire to save his daughter at any cost. When he tracks down where Iselin is being held, things go awry as she is almost killed again and Blix shoots the man, unarmed, in the back. Thus begins a series of issues for the decorated officer.

While Blix is being interrogated by Oslo Police ,Iselin clings to life in the hospital. Emma, feeling guilty for not being there for Iselin, straddles both worlds and tries to help her friend as well as be supportive. It is only then that the truth comes out and Blix begins to discover that things may not be as they seem. Could the killer still be on the loose? Fuelled by a need for answers and a tragic turn of events, Blix does all he can to reveal the truth, once and for all. Another great novel in this new series that is sure to have readers intrigued.

Horst and Enger have shown that they can effectively work in collaboration without losing any of their personal style. I have long been a fan of Jørn Lier Horst’s work, but this was a refreshing spin on things, allowing me to see how the ideas can vary between the two popular authors. A gritty story that takes the reader in many directions, there is a little of everything to culminate in a stunning ending. While I do love Horst’s solo work, I have come to enjoy this series as well, hoping that there is more to come.

Alexander Blix and Emma Ramm share the limelight as protagonists once again. Personal stories flood the narrative, as the reader will discover, but there is a strong sense of character development within, even as Blix struggles with the friendship he has with Ramm. This is surely a darker story, one that taps into things that many authors do not reveal about their leads, but I felt it necessary to show the realism they share and the struggles that permeate just below the surface on occasion. I will gladly accept more development and backstory when the authors return for another instalment of the series, as I have come to really enjoy these two, working alone or in tandem.

This was likely one of the darkest Scandinavian noir books that I have read in a while, though not because of the crime being presented. Rather, it was more the angst and personal pain presented throughout and the attempt to set things straight once more. The narrative was strong and kept me wondering throughout, as things progressed and took turns I could not have expected. Great characters fit well alongside a plot that left me hooked as I read well into the evening. Short chapters offered a tease of what is to come and I could not get enough, even as I tried to put the book down doer a period of time. This is a series worth noting for those who love Scandinavian thrillers like no other. The translation was once again quite seamless, making me wonder how this could not have been a book penned in English from the outset. I am eager to see if Horst and Enger have more collaborative plans, as there is something to be said for two powerhouses working together to create something even better!

Kudos, Messrs. Horst and Enger, for another great story. Series fans are in a for a treat with this.