I feel very lucky to have a place on the Blog Tour for this very special book: Cursed. Although this is the fourth in the series of books featuring journalist Henning Juul, I read it as a standalone and was drawn into his world very quickly.
About the Book
When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Norway’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. When their lives are threatened, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history. Chilling, gritty and unputdownable, Cursed marks the return of one of Norway’s finest crime writers.
What a chilling and intriguing book this turned out to be. Henning and his ex-wife, Nora, both become embroiled in the mystery of what happened to Hedda Hellberg. At the same time, Henning is trying to uncover the perpetrator of the arson which resulted in his son's death. One of the most impressive aspects of Cursed is how the two narratives, of Henning and Nora, are developed alongside each other, meeting at points then moving apart. The story is so well crafted that slowly characters and events are sewn into the fabric of the book in a totally satisfying way. At the end, you sit up in shock and gasp at the final words. Thomas Enger's prose is compelling and the complexity of the relationships between his characters is so subtle. It does feel like a masterclass in writing and Kari Dickson's translation is similarly smooth and fluent. There are no superfluous phrases here. Every word counts.
I particularly admired how the connexion between Nora and Henning was shown. Their grief is still raw and rooted in their everyday life. Henning is compelled to try to find out the truth about the fire, yet Nora immerses herself in her journalism. Neither of them can really move forward. The plot hinges on key moments between the characters. As the strands of the story gradually come together, you begin to understand the dynamics of the Hellberg family. Thomas Enger keeps you guessing right up to the end.
In short: A dark, intriguing read, full of suspense and intrigue. In three words: Perfect Nordic Noir.
About the Author
Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.
You can connect with Thomas on Twitter, and on his Website
Thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour.
Check out these lovely bloggers on the Blog Tour!