Canes Venatici

Jørn Lier Horst, The Hunting Dogs (2012, Jakthundene, translated Anne Bruce, 2014)

HuntingSo, this isn’t quite where I came in — it’s episodes 6-10 of Wisting, when the titular detective is riding high from his triumph of solving the serial killer case of Caveman. Appearing on Jens Christian Nørve’s Åsted Norge programme, his celebration is turned to despair when a lawyer Henden (Fridtjov Såheim) on the show accuses the police of a miscarriage of justice over his client Vidar Haglund (Fridtjov Såheim)’s alleged murder of Cecelia Linde. Wisting is suspended from duties and faces prison time — but takes the files home so he find out who planted the evidence and find out if Haglund was guilty. This becomes urgent, as another teen, Linnea Kaupang (Thea Sofie Loch Næss), has now gone missing.

The book has some different details — it’s Rudolf Haglund and the blackening of Wisting’s reputation is not done on TV. Wisting has appeared on television, presumably on a programme presented by the set-up-as-dodgy Thomas Rønningen from Closed for Winter, but he is not named here. The murder of Jonas Ravneberg, which Line investigates, is not in Frogner Park, but in Fredrikstad, but obviously it takes much of the novel for a journalist and a detective to find the cases are connected.

Two things finally struck me when reading this, the eighth in the series (the third translation). First, the short chapters are the major factor in keeping things moving. They tend to be four or five pages long. And, second, Horst tells as much as he shows. We know Wisting misses his wife, Ingrid, who died on a NORAD mission to Africa (the series simply has her as recently dead) and we have been told that Susannah is helping him live again, even as we see them drifting apart. We are told he admires his journalist daughter, and has learned the importance of the press, more than we see it. Perhaps it is a factor of series fiction, but perhaps backstory is dropped in too often (assuming this is not interpolation by the translator).

The series finds more to do for Nils Hammer — Wisting’s suspicions of him cuts him off from his colleagues even more — and adds a subplot for Torunn Borg (Kjersti Sandal), who has to step in for Wisting in leading the investigation. (It should be said this subplot gets dropped from the narrative.) In the book, the action remains almost always with Wisting and Line. Fjeld is absent. Former detective, Frank Robekk (Gard B. Eidsvold), is also more on the case and getting in the way. (He’s also in episodes 1-5, which can’t be true of the book of Caveman.) And there’s the whole social media presence of Kaupang which is manufactured for the series.

It may have been in reading this volume that I realised the author is using real streets — Wisting’s house should be visible on Googlemaps. I wonder how he gets away with this? Arthur Conan Doyle fudged a Baker Street address for Holmes and Watson, which I think has been moved in recent times, but I wonder what it would be like to live in the real place?

(I googled an address in an sf novel a couple of years ago, which had been home to a dubious banker. Before I could build up a reading based on that, I learned the author had lived there, many years previously.)

So, next is Caveman, with guest star Carrie-Anne Moss — the case which gave Wisting national prominence, but obviously can’t in the original novels.

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