Source: Review copy
Publication: Out now in e-book and in paperback on 18th February 2021 from Orenda Books
When the mother of a missing two-year-old girl is seriously injured in a suspected terrorist attack in Oslo, crime-fighting duo Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the case, and things aren’t adding up The second instalment in the addictive, atmospheric, award-winning Blix & Ramm series
I love this series with a passion! It has fantastic plotting, excellent police detecting work, great characters and storylines that are as engaging as they are puzzling. Coupled with dramatic scenarios and a breath-taking, atmospheric backdrop, there really is nothing to lose by going in.
From the outset the tension is high. It is New Year’s Eve in Oslo and a party atmosphere prevails. Emma Ramm the online news journalist decides that the start of a New Year is the time to face up to her fears which have been really worrying at her following the events of the last book, Death Deserved.
So she goes to the fireworks display in the city centre in time for the midnight celebrations. But that decision is a costly one because her worst fears, rather than being quelled are fuelled when a bomb goes off and many die or are injured.
Alexander Blix is on duty that night and nearby when the bomb explodes. He attends to the injured and discovers that one of those who has died has been identified as Ruth-Kristine Semplass, the mother of Patricia Semplass a young girl reported missing a decade ago and never found. It’s a case that has haunted him ever since.
But there are things about this event that worry Blix over and above the deaths and injuries and examination of the CCTV only deepens those concerns. And for Emma, who now feels terrible guilt on top of the fears she was already carrying, there can only be one answer and that is to try and find out who caused this devastating tragedy and why.
So in this case, Ramm and Blix are on parallel paths. Not working together, but finding their own leads and with Emma using anything she can to find out information from Blix, often in an unorthodox fashion.
I love that about Emma Ramm. Once she has decided to follow a story nothing stops her and she will use every technique at her disposal to find a lead. Blix, on the other hand, while he has a soft spot for Emma and knows they will always have a connection because of how they met, is not inclined to help Emma by putting her in harm’s way and so he is not encouraging her to pursue this one.
We see them working alone but their investigations cross each other all the time. This case has tension and drama but it is hard to predict just how it will be resolved and that makes it utterly fascinating. Each of the players in this drama has been impacted by tragedy and the impact of that tragedy on them has determined what happened next.
For Emma, this case is so personal. For Blix, it is an opportunity to finally resolve a case that has always concerned him. Both of them are so wrapped up in this tragedy that their sadness is palpable and I feared for the impact that it will have on Emma Ramm.
Meanwhile Blix’s partner, Kovic has the opportunity to take the lead on a case of her own and it is good to see her gaining more confidence as she takes a leading role in a murder case. Kovic is calm and level headed and Blix has real confidence in her, she just needs to believe in herself a little more.
Written in short, snappy chapters, Smoke Screen is a crime thriller that captures the attention and holds it well. The sense of place is vivid and compelling and the characters grow on the reader as the novel progresses. I wanted to hug Emma close; she’s been through so much for such a young woman yet she is strong and determined and ready to face down her fears, whatever the cost.
The plot is taut and beautifully woven with every piece slotting perfectly into place as this thrilling jigsaw comes together. Tracking Emma, then Blix just adds to the tension as each has their own pieces of the complex puzzle to add to the whole picture.
The translation by Megan Turney allows for a seamless read that perfectly captures the chilling atmosphere and lets the depth of characterisation shine through. The more we learn about these characters, the more drawn to them we become. This is a rapidly addictive series.
Verdict: Smoke Screen is an addictive and thrilling read that keeps the reader guessing while enjoying an intricate puzzle that requires excellent police procedural work to unravel it. Highly recommended
Bookshop.org Waterstones Dulwich Books
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.