Over Wintering

Jørn Lier Horst, Closed for Winter (2011, Vinterstengt, translated by Anne Bruce, 2013)

ClosedNorwegians seem to have summer homes. Or perhaps it’s just the middle class ones. They seem to be in the middle of nowhere and are perhaps a symbol of their relationship with isolation. In this case, we have Ove Bakkerud, seeking out isolation from a break up, who finds that his hytte has been broken into in his absence. And it gets worse: there is a murder victim at a nearby cabin, a cabin owned by TV personality Thomas Rønningen.

Wisting is leading the investigation and a couple of things go wrong in rapid succession: Wisting is assaulted in his car and the corpse is stolen in the van from forensics. They can’t be certain who has died and what he dies of.

Meanwhile, Line Wisting is coming to the end of her relationship with Tommy (the ex she is reunited with in the second half of Wisting) and comes home to Stavern whilst he moves out of their Oslo accommodation. As her widowed father is now living with a girlfriend, Susannah, she elects not to stay at Herman Wildenveys gate 7, rather sleeping alone at Wisting’s newly inherited hytte, so she can start writing a crime novel.

Yanno,  dangerously close to all the other hytter that have been broken into.

And, even if this isn’t going to put her into the line of fire, you some how feel that these details are all connected. But, aparently, it takes a journalist and a detective the best part of the book to figure this out.

There’s much drinking of coffee and Ferris water — I know it well — and there’s a bit more action here, than in Dregs, what with Wisting’s assault. Wisting’s investigations take him to Lithuania, and to international drug supply chains, with a certain amount of heavy-handed politics in terms of wealth differences within and between societies. Crimes collide.

There’s a certain amount of plot which depends on characters not talking to each other and deciding to go off on their own to investigate, but you have to take that as a given.

We get to meet Benjamin Fjeld, the young and dishy cop who is part of the Wisting series and seems almost set up to have a fling with Line. Audun/Andrea Vetti has been largely promoted out of the way, but will be back for The Hunting Dogs, I assume.

It’s a page turner, but I guessed one of the twists early on and the reason why all the birds were falling dead out of the sky (did I mention the birds are falling dead out of the sky? The birds are falling dead out of the sky.) was pretty guessable.

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