Deep Cover

Jørn Lier Horst, The Caveman (2013, Hulemannen, translated by Anne Bruce, 2015)

cavemanI hesitate to invoke the f-word.

I come to this having watched Wisting, and this has a strong family resemblance to the source novel in episodes 1-5, even though The Hunting Dogs (episodes 6-10) comes earlier in the sequence. Is it faithful to the book? The FBI come in to help Larvik’s police force in solving the murder of an American tourist, and I was certainly intrigued to see how FBI Special Agent Maggie Griffin (Carrie-Anne Moss) came across on the page.

Spoiler: hardly at all. There are three FBI agents here, Griffin, John Bantham (Richie Campbell) and Donald Baker, and I’m not sure Griffin gets to say anything significant, let alone be the person who met the killer and let him go many years before. In a throwaway line, we discover she’s gone back to the States. We are told the FBI have a reputation of overriding local police forces, but we don’t see it here (and Nils Hammer (Mads Ousdal) doesn’t have his mistrust of them, nor his subplot in the book), nor are the conversations about guns. Bantham does have his unwise assignation with Line (Thea Green Lundberg), but it doesn’t happen after an interviewee has come onto her and the fallout of this tryst doesn’t play out as much in the book as it does in the TV series. On the other hand, we learn it has consequences in Ordeal, but that’s to get ahead of ourselves. And Thomas Wisting appears in name only on the page, as Horst tells rather than shows.

Usually, we’d expect, with a certain amount of prejudice, that a TV adaptation will simplify. In this case, it adds a hinterland for the characters — although Wisting doesn’t have the mythic weight of Rebus, Hole or Dalziel, even on the page. It’s the plot that is the thing.

Wisting is investigating the death of an American tourist, which exposes a serial killer who has operated in at least three countries, and Line is writing a story about a man who has died alone, a couple of doors down from her father. (You can find the address on google.) It takes a lot of the book before they realise the cases are connected, but them’s the rules. There are a lot of hidden identities and hidden histories and it all meshes together nicely.

The climax, however … well, there is an action setpiece, which the TV sticks to before going into Total Bollocks Overdrive and the pay off of the gun conversations. The book is fine, but I think on the whole I approve of the changes.

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