Source: Review copy
Publication: 12th December from Penguin
It’s been fifteen years since Simon Meier walked out of his house, never to be seen again.
And just one day since politician Bernard Clausen was found dead at his cabin on the Norwegian coast.
When Chief Inspector William Wisting is asked to investigate, he soon discovers he may have found the key to solving Meier’s disappearance.
But doing so means he must work with an old adversary to piece together what really happened all those years ago.
It’s a puzzle that leads them into a dark underworld on the trail of Clausen’s interests and vices. A shady place from which they may never emerge – especially when he finds it leads closer to home than he ever could have imagined.
I like the William Wisting books. They are solid police procedurals in which the evidence is sifted and examined and proportionate weight given to each piece. Wisting is Chief Inspector in Larvik’s CID and his daughter Line, who lives just down the road with her young daughter Amalie, is now a freelance journalist. Wisting commissions her to work on his latest cold case which is very hush hush and involves the discovery of a very large sum of money at the cabin of a deceased senior politician, Bernard Clausen.
The money is around 15 years old. And 15 years ago a man disappeared and was presumed drowned. These two things seem unrelated, except that the missing man was a friend of Clausen’s son, Lennart, who died in a motorcycle accident around the same time. Wisting is tasked with discreetly finding out where this money came from without it becoming a political scandal. While Line investigates the personal life of Clausen and talks to his party colleagues, Wisting and his investigators trace the origins of the money.
Wisting himself is that strangest of all fictional police detectives and it’s no accident that Lier Horst’s own police experience has played into the creation of this detective. He has no obvious character defects. He neither drinks nor smokes too much. He loves his daughter and volunteers to look after his granddaughter. He is meticulous, softly spoken and not given to melancholia. In short, he is thorough and very competent and his cases are solved by good, old fashioned police work. I’ve said it before, but he is exactly the kind of detective I’d want investigating any case that I had to report.
The story is interesting and the inter-connectedness of the stories plays out at a decent pace. The narrative works well and there’s no hint of this being a translated work, which is how you’d expect it to be in a collaboration that has worked well between author and translator for a number of books.
The dialogue is convincing and the tension comes from an element of danger and violence that threatens Wisting’s family as their investigation gets closer to the truth.
Verdict: The joy of this book is in the slow burning, understated process and the nicely crafted plotting rather than a hugely surprising or climactic denouement, but it is a satisfying conclusion to a layered and fascinating mystery nicely topped off with a dash of political intrigue.
Bestselling author Jørn Lier Horst is a Former Senior Investigating Officer from Norway and recently winner of the Glass Key Award for the best Nordic Crime Novel and the prestigious Martin Beck Award. He made his debut in 2004 with the crime novel Key Witness, based on a true murder story. His crime novels have been extremely successful in Europe and are characterised by political and social commentary subtext.
His Wisting series has been bought by the BBC in the UK and will be screened by BBC Four next year. Jørn has also co-written a book with Thomas Enger, Death Deserved, which will be published in February by Orenda Books