The Fourth Man by K O Dahl
|The Fourth Man by K O Dahl|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The first of Dahl's Frølich and Gunnarstranda novels to be translated into English provides and intriguing plot with good characterisation and setting. It's worth reading and is a series to watch in the future.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: March 2007|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
Detective Inspector Frank Frølich finds himself lying on top of an attractive woman during a routine police raid, but they don't meet again for some time. When they do there's an immediate sexual attraction between them and they start a passionate affair. There's only one problem - Elisabeth is the sister of Jonny Faremo and the police know him all too well - but by then it's already too late as Frølich is obsessed. When the bodies start piling up he has to find out if Elisabeth feels anything for him or if she's using him. By then he's been suspended from the Oslo police force and is suspected of being involved in various crimes.
I didn't think that I was going to like this book. In the early pages we work our way through the sexual attraction between the two and I got a little bit irritated by it. Fictional sex is rarely good and this was no exception, but it was there to set the scene of Frølich's obsession with a woman he would have been well-advised to avoid. Once that was out of the way the book became a better than average police procedural novel.
Frølich and his partner, Gunnarstranda have had a tip-off that Jonny Faremo and two men who work with him are responsible for a robbery and murder, but Elisabeth Faremo gives an alibi to the three men, saying that she left Frølich's bed, went home and was playing poker with the three suspects when the crime took place. Frølich can't be certain what time she left and when there's a suggestion that there was a fourth man involved in the robbery and murder, suspicion falls on him.
I didn't work out the name of the fourth man of the title but I did see quite a bit of the ending coming. There were plenty of clues available, but it was still a good story, well-paced and with plenty of twists and red herrings. I particularly enjoyed the settings - the murkier side of Oslo and some of the beautiful surrounding countryside. Two maps helped to give an idea of the areas involved and the contrast between the city and the wintry country areas was stark. Dahl has been touted as an alternative to Henning Mankell (author of the Kurt Wallander novels set in Sweden) and there is the same ability to convey a sense of the landscape and the climate. The storyline is as strong as the earliest of the Wallander novels - The Dogs of Riga - but not up to the best, coincidentally called The Fifth Woman.
Character development is on a par with Mankell. Even the rather insubstantial figure of Elisabeth Faremo is well drawn. I was particularly taken by Frølich's partner, Gunnarstranda and intrigued by Reidun Vestli the woman with whom Elisabeth might have had a sexual relationship. Even relatively minor characters are well-developed.
The book has been translated from the original Norwegian by Dan Bartlett and whilst I can't comment on how it compares with the original, the English version reads well and there's nothing to give a hint that this is a translation. This is the first of Dahl's Frølich and Gunnarstranda novels to be translated into English and I'll certainly be interested to read more in the series.
If this type of novel appeals to you then you'll also enjoy the novels of Henning Mankell mentioned above. You might also like Don't Look Back and He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum, which are set in rural Norway.
Our thanks to the publishers for sending us this book.
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