Source: Review copy
Publication: Available now in e-book and on 2Oth February 2020 from Orenda Books
Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high-profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series…
Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.
Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…
Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.
Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…
Sometimes you open a book and within a few paragraphs you know that this one was made for you. This is that book and I’m convinced, that series.
Regular readers will know that I am a fan of Jørn Lier Horst’s William Wisting series – where he uses painstaking, careful police work in his police procedural series to unravel the perpetrators of the crime. I’ve often said that Wisting is the policeman I’d want to investigate any crime against me. I’m also a huge Thomas Enger supporter; his prose is sublime and he has the capacity to infuse strong emotional resonance into strong, three dimensional characters and to couple this with acute observation of social issues.
So when two of my favourite Nordic writers join forces what would we get? The answer is both surprising and delightful, in a macabre way. Way more than the sum of their parts, that’s for sure. Death Deserved is a brilliantly paced, devastatingly plotted, crime fiction work with a contemporary slant, as a policeman and a blogger work together to unmask a lethal serial killer.
Emma Ramm has made a name for herself as a blogger by interviewing celebrities. Sonja Nordstrom has just written an explosive book entitled Always Number One, about her time as a top athlete. Emma has arranged to interview Sonja, but when she turns up at her house she realises that something isn’t right. The door is open; there are signs of disturbance and Sonja can’t be found.
Enter Alexander Blix, a policeman who still bears the scars of a hostage situation he was involved in years earlier. He and his new partner, Sofia Kovic are put onto the case of finding out what has happened to Sonja.
It isn’t long before celebrities start turning up dead all over the city and without an obvious link the police are baffled as to what is motivating their killer. Emma has theories though; celebrities are her bread and butter and as Alexander has zero interest in today’s media personalities, she is the one who can help inform the case.
Alex and Emma are unlikely collaborators, but there is a thread that links them that is stronger than it first appears and it’s good to see both Emma and Blix’s partner, Sofia looking out for the detective as he seeks to work out what is going on and why these celebrities are dying on his watch.
As Blix and Emma begin to pool their information Blix realises that Ramm is an intelligent, tough and very useful ally. Blix is still somewhat emotionally paralysed and more than a bit vulnerable while Ramm, who has had a difficult life, does not bond easily, preferring to channel her energies into her work. What begins as an uneasy alliance grows into a strong and fascinating partnership of these exceptionally well-drawn, three dimensional characters as the story gains pace and the drama intensifies.
A trail of puzzling clues scattered across Oslo has the police running about like headless chickens in an enthralling serial killer chiller that delivers excitement and intriguing mystery in an explosive countdown package designed to keep you reading into the wee small hours of the night.
Nicely encapsulating the ideas of today’s celebrity culture, Death Deserved is a fast paced and well fashioned depiction of what living in the media spotlight means for today’s shallow celebrity culture. In the dash for their fifteen minutes of fame, have these so called celebrities on a quest to be the most famous, brought about their own demise? Have they deserved their deaths?
Verdict: Death Deserved has it all. Superb tension and terrific plotting offers a suspenseful, chilling read. As befits a Nordic Noir novel, the atmosphere is superb as the reader is drawn into the heart of the action lending a deep frozen edge to this nail-biting serial killer novel. What makes it sing though is not just the terrific storytelling and the intense, macabre murders. It is that meshing of human lives and frailties with the psychological thriller elements of a demented killer that gives the reader an all too human drama that leaps off the page and makes you want more from this beautifully meshed pair of writers.
Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.