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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 13 star ratings
3 reviews

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3.7 out of 5
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    Good but...

    The story is captivating, but the translation is not great
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    Would like to read more in this series

    I enjoyed this book as I enjoy most Scandinavian noir.
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    A clever and twisted story of family secrets

    This is a very cleverly written story. Opening with a scene set in Sweden where a man is murdered whist out hunting, I was unsure about how and where this was going to fit in. The man had ties to Norway, although it was not explained what these were, and his untimely death left a lot of questions unanswered. And this is where our real tale begins. When Henning’s ex-wife Nora is approached by the husband of an old school friend, Hedda, she has no idea of how much of an impact this is going to have on her life. With her current relationship on rocky ground, she is glad to have something to immerse herself in, and the mystery of the woman who left for a retreat in Italy following her father’s death and never returned is an intriguing one to say the least. Nora hadn’t seen Hedda since university, but she remembered her family, especially her father, as being formidable, one of the richest families in Norway with an established real estate business and many deep rooted commuity ties. Despite being worried for Hedda, the family seem reticent to help Nora; the more she learns of Hedda, the less the story makes sense, and the more it seems that someone is determined to stop her. Back in Oslo, Henning is making waves of his own, trying desperately hard to find out who was behind the fire at his apartment which ruined his life. Taking a sabbatical from work, Henning is using the time to track down some very shady characters, people who may know more about the fire than they are letting on. His investigations take him on some surprising trails, and someone seems determined to stop him, even if it means taking his life. But this is the only thing keeping Henning going, the quest for the truth. With evidence leading his search ever closer to Nora’s investigation, there is nothing that can prepare Henning for what he is about to uncover at the books jaw-dropping conclusion. I loved this book. Being taken from two investigative journalist’s points of view gave it a different slant on a normal mystery or thriller. These are people who, rightly or wrongly, can go places, ask questions and follow trails that the police are judicially not allowed to do. Neither Nora or Henning is afraid to put themselves in jeopardy, in fact their willingness to take risks, while it may seem foolhardy, actually makes them all the more endearing. There is still clear chemistry between the two and yet circumstance has forced an irreparable crack in their relationship. They have endured great loss, the kind which often kills a marriage, and while Nora is trying to move on, Henning is lost in the past, unable to press on until he has answers. Answers he is more than willing to die to obtain. The pacing in this book is varied, ebbing and flowing as the narrative directs it. Even the opening chapter seems calm, considered, right up until the moment that the old man is shot. And that simple, cold act of violence leaves a myriad of questions which I was just desperate to get an answer to, sometimes I’ll admit, more than I was desperate to know why Hedda disappeared. Outside of our protagonists Henning and Nora, and a handful of their closest friends, there is no-one in this book who isn’t duplicitous, who doesn’t have something to hide. There is a feeling of not being able to trust anyone, especially not the missing Hedda. And while the investigation itself may seem to take a slower pace, there are moments of real high-stakes tension where both Nora and Henning are targeted in separate attacks. But are they just being warned off or is it a real attempt upon their life? And those final heart-pumping chapters where Nora begins to uncover the truth about Hedda and her family really had me holding my breath, desperate to learn everyone’s fates as even the elements seemed to conspire against them. The imagery created in this book, the descriptions of Oslo and the Norwegian landscape, the creation of individual character, are all brilliant. I got a real feeling for the city, for the climatic and cultural changes in the country as you step foot outside of Oslo’s confines. Of the difference in class and culture and the impact this had upon the story itself. The book drew me in and almost consumed me, to the point I didn’t want to walk away from it. I became entranced by both the setting and the characters contained within. Nora and Henning both captured my imagination and my heart as I read about them. In spite of her internal pain, Nora is a strong independent woman, intelligent and astute. Henning is a man driven by anger, motivated by his need for answers. Both are extremely likeable but for very different reasons. Enger has written about them and their love so beautifully, the tragedy of their story so evocatively, that I simply must know more. And more importantly, I cannot wait to find out what happens to the irrepressible Henning next. Brilliant.

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