It’s a Murder of Crows, or, Corvid Reading

Agnes Ravatn, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribunalet, 2013, translated by Rosie Hedger, 2016)

RavatnIt’s a little unfair, but this kind of (usually) female gothic is haunted – Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca springs to mind, as does (to a lesser extent) Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, as well as Hitchcock’s Rebecca and The Birds. Oh, and Bluebeard.

This wasn’t the first book I’d bought in a real shop since the lockdown, but it was my first expotition out of the postcodes and a visit to the Oxford Street Bookshop. It leapt out at me from the crime and thriller section, and it was only after I left the shop that it was a Book at Bedtime serial, which I’d only caught sections of. And for some reason had thought of Frankenstein.

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Privat Øye

Gunnar Staalesen, Yours Until Death (Din, Til Døden, 1979, translated by Margaret Amassian, 1993)

YoursSome crime novels don’t age well.

Too long ago for liking, I bought a boxset of all the Morse novels dirt cheap from a charity shop, and began reading them in order. I’d not seen more than one of the TV versions – ironically, when staying in Oxford with a friend who was busy working – and so all I knew was beer, crosswords, Jaguar, solving the crime having accused everyone else and dubious geography. I read about three, starting with the first, and paused when I decided I didn’t like the way Morse looked down the blouses of his interviewees.
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A Palpable Hytte

Jørn Lier Horst, The Cabin (2018, Det Innerste Rommet, translated by Anne Bruce, 2019)

cabinSo, it has to be said, the original book is called something closer to The Innermost Room, rather than The Cabin, but the cabin seems to be the must-have accessory of your upper middle class Norwegian. The title, I would argue, has a certain amount of ambiguity as to [spoilers!] which room it is.

But maybe it’s Norwegianer.
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Not to Be Confused with Da Vinci

Jørn Lier Horst, The Katharina Code (2017, Katharina-koden, translated by Anne Bruce, 2018)

katharina codeSo here we have a definite shift – the earlier Wisting novels came from small press Sandstone, but this book marks a move for Lier Horst to Penguin and the embracing of cliché du jour “figure walking away from us into snowy forest” book cover. The scene could be snowy, but the novel is set in October and not late enough that a fishing trip at a cabin isn’t practical. I note that Jørn Lier Horst’s name is smaller than the novel’s title, so he isn’t yet being sold on that.

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From Dusk til Dawn

Jørn Lier Horst, When It Grows Dark (2016, Når Det Mørkner, translated by Anne Bruce, 2016)

When It Grows DarkSo, I wonder if Lier Horst has painted himself into a corner – it seems as if he’s producing a Wisting novel every year and – spoiler – Wisting’s daughter Line has had a daughter at the end of Ordeal. The pattern of Wisting’s investigation intersecting with Line’s journalism (but it takes most of the novel for a police officer and a journalist to spot this) is likely disrupted by baby Ingrid being in a sling. Indeed, I think Line only has a cameo in this volume, which I suspect we’d call a novelette in sf terms.

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The Real Ordeal

Jørn Lier Horst, Ordeal (2015, Blindgang, translated by Anne Bruce, 2016)
Ordeal“As a criminal investigator, I have never believed in coincidence. There are always explanations. Patterns, threads and logical connections. […] But I must admit that there is a place for coincidences in life, outwith the rules laid down by the laws of nature and described by the province of science.”

Coincidence and synchronicity, especially the former, reverberate through the Wisting series. William Wisting is investigating a case that impinges on an old case or is struggling after a case has gone cold and his daughter, Line Wisting is investigating a death or something criminally related. It takes most of the book for a detective and a journalist to work it out, even if it is blindingly obvious to we, the oh so wise reader. Continue reading →

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. Continue reading →

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.

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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. Continue reading →

My Left Foot

Jørn Lier Horst, Dregs (2010, Bunnfall, translated by Anne Bruce, 2011)

DregsThere’s a kind of detective work in coming to this, the fifth in the Wisting novels, after the television adaptation of books nine and eight of the sequence.

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