Norwegian author Thomas Enger caught my attention in Reykjavik at the Iceland Noir festival with a description of his ultimate terror. The whole room was silent and captivated as he described his. It was a spellbinding moment and I knew I had to read his books.
The terror Enger described at Iceland Noir was the starting point for a series of 5 books featuring journalist Henning Juul. ‘Cursed’ starts with a gripping prologue set in a Swedish forest. It is an excellent piece which showcases Enger’s writing, engages the reader and sets up a strong sense of mystery. Yet another mystery is introduced – a missing person and it becomes the puzzle for Nora to solve. Nora is Henning’s ex-partner and also a journalist. Henning Juul has a different and final mystery to solve, one which has been eating him up for along time and is the theme which ties the 5 books in the series together. Who killed his son?
Enger explained at the recent Granite Noir festival in Aberdeen that he tried for 15 years to become an author. In this time he wrote 4 novels which were not published. The difference between these and the ones that did eventually get published was planning. He explained to the audience that he planned the first Henning Juul book for 6 months before he began to write. He knew his characters and story line well before he put pen to paper. When asked at Granite Noir if he likes to shock his readers Enger replied that he ‘focuses on the drama between the characters more now. There is enough shock in the industry.’
Cursed is a tight, well crafted read and skillfully translated by Kari Dickson. I enjoyed discovering the differences between the two main characters Nora and Henning whose lives are intertwined through the shared loss of their son and their careers. I also enjoyed the crimes being investigated in ‘Cursed.’ Most of the book is set in Norway and we get glimpses into the dark underbelly as well as the historical past. Through this tale Enger highlights beautifully how the echoes of the past are still heard in the present. You can read Cursed as a stand alone and I am sure if you do then you will want to read his other novels too.