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…
What happens when you get two of Norway’s finest crime writers together to collaborate on a book?
Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of Thomas Enger’s books -in particular Killed and Cursed from his Henning Juul books are wonderfully dark and riveting, beautifully layered and expertly plotted.
I must confess that I’d not come across Jørn Lier Horst before until reading this book and discovered that he’s the author of the books that the excellent tv series Wisting was based on.
So it was with no small measure of excitement that I set off into Death Deserved. A heady mix of serial killer/police procedural will always pique my interest, and Death Deserved delivers solidly on both counts. Add into the mix celebrity blogger Emma Ramm doing her best to investigate the mysterious missing Sonja Nordstrøm, and you’ve got a cracking tale of cat (or, I suppose cats) and mouse.
The writing is, as you’d expect from these Nordic literary giants, splendid, as is the intricate plot. Tensions ratchet up along with the body count as Ramm and Blix race to work out the connection between them all.
It’s more than just a police procedural though and I suspect that this is where each author adds their own special something to the mix. There’s a strong human drama at play here too, as we delve into Blix’s past and the hostage situation nineteen years previously. It’s fascinating to see how the two timelines interweave and play out over the course of the book.
The contrasting characters of Blix and Ramm play off each other really well, and I’m delighted to see that will be the first of a series. I’m looking forward to seeing what Horst and Enger come up with for them next!
I enjoyed this book a lot (as you can probably tell). If you’re a fan of either Thomas Enger or Jørn Lier Horst, then I highly recommend you read this. And if you’ve not experienced either, this might just be the perfect place to start.
Death Deserved by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger is published by Orenda Books in January 2020. Hat tip to Anne Bruce for the excellent translation.
Thanks as ever to Karen Sullivan for the review copy.
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.