Closed for Winter by Jorn Lier Horst
|Closed for Winter by Jorn Lier Horst|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This Norwegian policer lacks the depth of other authors.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 328||Date: October 2013|
|Publisher: Sandstone Press Ltd|
On a remote stretch of the southern Norwegian coast sits a selection of holiday cottages – second homes for the moderately wealthy. When a man turns up to close his down securely for the winter he finds he has been burgled. What's more he finds what seems to be the culprit in the neighbouring property – stone cold dead behind his balaclava and black clothing. The explanation may perhaps lie in the fact that the secluded coastline has been often used for a different kind of crime, but even when Inspector Wisting factors drug-runners into the proceedings, his investigation will still not run according to plan…
This edition is happy to show off a few pages of good quotes regarding Mr Horst's books, and a couple of useful pages about this being the seventh in the series, yet only the second in English. Still, that is no problem with the précis we get of Wisting's character and circumstances, and the Harry Hole books have not come to us in order either. What is the biggest problem for me is the fact that we never get the depth, assured psychology and astuteness of the best Scandi-crime.
This reads pretty differently to the usual Nordic noir, with many chapters, all averaging four pages each. But even some of them could have been cropped, with too much banality about people serving up cups of coffee and so on. Horst is a police officer of the level of his creation, but it seems here the insight comes from him having Wisting, through his omniscient narrator, explain how good forensic science can be – although for the detective it involves gathering every data before finding out what was actually useful. Oh, and then telling another character what we've just learned, then having a conference meeting to say it all again. It may be a realistic side of police procedural, but it doesn't make for riveting reading, even with all the airport novel stylings.
I don't want to make out that it's all bad, however. There are a few good beats to the story, with some surprises here and there, and the clarity of the drive through the investigation gives some good page-turning qualities. If you're like me you could well fear the worst when Wisting's family gets dragged into proceedings, but that is actually handled more successfully than I was expecting. What isn't handled so well is the drip-drip of surprise, with one minor and one major factor of the plot being incredibly guessable. Finally, when the investigation opens up to involve a trip abroad for Wisting the patronising tone the narration can at times suffer from opens out too, to something much more like sheer racism.
So while there is a case to be said for Horst to be singled out in the panoply of authors in his genre, with the quickness of feet and readability that some find lacking in his more deadly serious co-authors, there is a case to be said for this being not up to the satisfactory level others attain. I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.
Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes shows what you can do with a remote cottage and a death or two.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Closed for Winter by Jorn Lier Horst at Amazon.com.
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