The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

Written with Dahl’s trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in an exceptional, shocking thriller.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read a few books that are in someway connected to WW2, but never one that is set in Norway. In honesty, I am ashamed to admit that I never had any idea about Norway’s involvement in the war. The book is set both in 1942 when you are introduced to Ester and Gerhard and 1967       when Ester is determined to get answers. There are also very brief chapters that are set in 2015.

This is a book where you need to concentrate a lot when reading. The period that it is set in change for each chapter and there were occasions when I had to check which I was reading about. But when 1942 was left behind I found it much easier to read, and all the questions I had were answered. 

Ester was a character I loved. She is Jewish, and a courier who is working with the resistance. When she witnessed her father being taken away by the authorities and his shop closed I was a little surprised that there wasn’t further focus on this. I has expected the novel to be about the atrocities committed. But the novel focuses on Ester’s determination to find out what happened to her friend and trying to find out how and why Gerhard is still alive 25 years later. It also gives some insight into what happened behind the scenes during the war.

It was increasingly fascinating how the the story connected, and what happened to them in the years between. Especially with Ester, this novel could have just concentrated on her life journey from Norway to Israel. Whilst there wasn’t a lot of focus on what happened to her family, you do get to see the effect it had on her. How it never left her. I imagine this to be a true reflection of what it must be like for descendants of loved ones who were taken away.

The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl – Translated by Don Bartlett – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder.
With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort. Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
As soon as I started reading The Ice Swimmer I felt like was in the company of old friends.I had only met the characters once previously, in Faithless, but Lena, Gunnarstranda and Frølich are so easy to know and like. Probably because they are shown as normal people who have everyday issues.
Lena is the lead character again on the two cases that are being investigated. She is a brilliant and dedicated officer but her personal life is a disaster and she now also has had devastating news about her health.  Even though the team are close they don’t discuss personal issues and she is dealing with the situation on her own. Frølich has a smaller role in this novel but he is a character who nobody can control, no longer a member of the police but Lena and Gunnarstranda still include him when they feel he can help. It would be foolish to underestimate his worth.
They are up against the worst type of people. Influential politicians who have enough power and wealth to halt any investigation into their lives and also the media. Who are capable of inventing a story and causing trouble if they want to. There is also unwelcome interference from other security forces which is upsetting for Lena.
Norwegian crime series seem so different to other crime fiction. I’ve never read any other that has me googling food and I find it astonishing that a country can have extremely cold temperatures and still function.
This series is now one of my favourite from Orenda and I’m looking forward to more.

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Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her… and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again.

Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.

My Review

Faithless is one of a series of books that features Frølich, Gunnarstranda, Lena and their superior officer Rindal. I haven’t read any of the previous novels and whilst there was backstory missing with regards to their personal lives it didn’t impact on my enjoyment of this novel.
When a young woman is found dead after being charged with possession of cocaine Frølich feels he is in a dilemma. He was the officer who charged her and at a party the same night he discovered that she was in a relationship with an old school friend. He pleads conflict of interest but is ignored. This isn’t the only case being investigated. A young African woman has disappeared whilst on placement at the university. They have suspects but their hands are tied without any evidence.
A few years ago, I had read no Norwegian fiction. Now I wonder why there hasn’t been more translated into English. The ones I have read lately all seem to be part of a hugely successful series that has been published for several years and it is all very enjoyable.
Apart from Rindal, all the detectives feature strongly and despite not knowing anything about them I got to know them all quite well. The investigations are quite intense, the detectives are all intent on getting a result. I felt their every mood, their self-doubt, and their relationships with each other (Rindel seemed to be somebody to ridicule) and their feelings regarding the various suspects.
Lena’s investigations were the most worrying and she was the character who I liked the most. She had faults but she was in no denial about what they were. The ending was intriguing. I know the book was originally published a few years before translation and I’m eager to find out how it continues. I hope I don’t have long to wait.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and the chance to take part in the blog tour.