Source: Review copy
Publication: Out now in ebook and p/back 17 February 2022
My thanks to Orenda Books for an advance copy for review
When a police investigator is killed execution-style and Blix’s own daughter is targeted by the killer, he makes a dangerous decision, which could cost him everything. Blix & Ramm are back in a breathless, emotive thriller by two of Norway’s finest crime writers…
When police investigator Sofia Kovic uncovers a startling connection between several Oslo murder cases, she attempts to contact her closest superior, Alexander Blix before involving anyone else in the department. But before Blix has time to return her call, Kovic is shot and killed in her own home – execution style. And in the apartment below, Blix’s daughter Iselin narrowly escapes becoming the killer’s next victim.
Four days later, Blix and online crime journalist Emma Ramm are locked inside an interrogation room, facing the National Criminal Investigation Service. Blix has shot and killed a man, and Ramm saw it all happen.
As Iselin’s life hangs in the balance, under-fire Blix no longer knows who he can trust … and he’s not even certain that he’s killed the right man…
Goodness me but Unhinged is a dark, emotional journey. It’s a book where you begin with your heart in your mouth and end up with it in shreds. This time Blix and Ramm will find that everything they are to each other is tested to the extreme and more than one body will be lying at their feet.
Here Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger bring their combined skills to bear on a book that has all their fine hallmarks. In Unhinged we have the methodical, relentless pursuit of the truth personified this time by Emma Ramm and the dark, intense and deeply affecting emotional pursuit of a ruthless killer by Alexander Blix.
What Unhinged brings to our reading table is not just a riveting, unexpected crime thriller, but also a study in how tragedy brings character to the fore and the impact that grief can have on the most upstanding and robust of interrogators.
Here you see a man changing in front of you. A man whose life has been dedicated to the law and the pursuit of justice. Now he is a man almost destroyed by a life changing event. The authors cleverly mix together past and present as we follow a trail that leads from the past to the present, learning as we go what has brought both Blix and Ramm into an interrogation room, facing the National Criminal Investigation Service. A man is dead, shot by Blix and in an uncanny throwback to Emma’s childhood, Ramm saw it happen.
We learn at the beginning that Blix’s partner, Sofia Kovich has been murdered. It is that shocking event that drives everything that follows as Blix and Ramm try to work out from her past cases and the case files Kovich was looking at, why she has been murdered. It’s a complex and the investigation trail is less than obvious, leading you in one direction while you try to deal with the fallout from a tragic mistake that drives a wedge between Blix and Ramm. Blix is left horribly isolated and struggling to deal with his loss, even as his own motives and past are questioned by his colleagues.
Tracking down a ruthless killer requires understanding the mind of this perpetrator and that’s difficult when you’re driven by rage and hurt. Blix is under suspicion and Emma, who is finding it hard to forgive her own mistakes, becomes driven to understand why this has happened and who is behind it.
I don’t know when I have felt such terrible anguish from one protagonist, let alone two, and it is hard to bear. Together this pair feels on the brink of imploding and that tears at your heart strings. I couldn’t look away, but I was scared for the fragility of their mental health and for their relationship.
As an exploration of human nature and especially of grief, it is spell-binding. What we get is a world of hurt but most of it is without physical violence. This is mental anguish and it feels so very real. It is clear that neither Blix nor Ram will ever be the same people they were before this started; what is less clear is whether they will ever again be able to work together.
Unhinged delves deep into the mind of the killer to find the motive at the same time as it gives us a sense of the blind rage and hopelessness that drives Blix. In contrast, it is Emma Ramm who must become the methodical analyser of the evidence to lead them to the chilling truth.
Megan Turney’s flawless translation conveys the grief and heart-break so well and the coldness of the killer and the white heat of Blix’s anger is beautifully contrasted.
Verdict: This is such an emotional book; sometimes unbearably tense, other times raw and shocking. I don’t think I’ve read another like it. It’s vivid and visceral; compelling and breath-taking in the rawness of feeling. Beautifully written, hugely moving and seriously good crime fiction that deserves to be on everyone’s must read list.
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.