Today I am delighted to continue our Year of Orenda and Kjell Ola Dahl week with my review of Sister, the very latest book in the Oslo Detectives series. and Frølich is back!! I love this series, and am so happy to be back with the company of Oslo’s finest. Thank you to Anne Cater of Ranf=dom Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death.
Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run…
A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.
How lovely to be back in the company of Frank Frølich. He may no longer be at the helm of the police investigations, having left under a cloud some time before, but in his new role as Private Investigator it hasn’t stopped him from finding himself in the middle of a pretty serious investigation, one that puts him in conflict with some names from his past.
From the very beginning of this book I found myself completely immersed in Frank’s story and, by default, that of the world of immigrants, asylum seekers and cruise ship disasters in which he found himself. A chance trip to a shopping mall after the conclusion of a case sees Frølich meeting Mathilde, a woman who is about to change his life, both romantically and professionally. As a favour to her he agrees to help one of her friends in tracing a woman who fled to Norway from Iraq some years before and whose sister who has made a similar journey and is now on the verge of being deported if they cannot trace the woman to vouch for her to remain in the country.
And so it begins … Nothing about the case is quite as it seems and from a simple missing persons investigation, the story turns to murder and potential insurance fraud as Frølich also finds himself engaged in trying to track down what really happened when a cruise ship succumbed to a catastrophic blaze some thirty years earlier, a blaze in which many lives were lost. That in itself is a heartbreaking story, and one full of mystery as it appears the original investigation may not stand up to close scrutiny.
I loved the way in which Kjell Ola Dahl has brought that whole investigation to life, taking readers through the evidence and allowing us to form our own opinions on what really happened. But this isn’t exclusively about the cruise ship disaster, and nor is it really a book about the plight of asylum seekers in Norway, although it touches upon both subjects in a very measured and clever way. This is a very complex and multi-layered tale, not so much so as to be inaccessible, but enough that you can be completely fooled by what you think you know, and blindsided by the truth when it is finally revealed.
Once again, readers are treated to characters who are very authentic, very three dimensional and diverse. I liked the way in which Mathilde’s freer spirit seemed to rub off on Frank, although he remained true to himself in that he could never fully switch off from the case and, when all was said and done, his need to find the answers was the strongest pull of all. And one of the finest things about this series is the beautiful way in which Kjell Ola Dahl sets the scene for readers. We are not confined to the neighbourhoods around the cityscape that makes up Frank’s natural habitat. We are led on a journey across country at one stage, and on ferry journeys at others, all of which are brilliantly captured on the page, letting readers experience the sights, sounds and almost the smells of Norway, as we move from chapter to chapter. It is a book which I flew through as I was so fully engaged in what I was reading and desperate to know how all of the threads pulled together.
This is a story in which one tragedy leads to the next, and then the next, and so on. If you come expecting a happy ending, you may be disappointed. You will get a resolution – without a shadow of a doubt. Frank achieves all he is commissioned to do, and perhaps a touch more, but in a story that is defined by family, honour, loss, deception and careful manipulation, there is little chance for anyone to come out of this investigation on top.
Got to say, though, that I am completely intrigued, and a little bit excited, by the ending too.
A big shout out to translator, Don Bartlett, who has done a fantastic job yet again of making the author’s words, and Frølich’s world, absolutely sing in English.
About the Author
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.
Author Links: Twitter
Books by Kjell Ola Dahl