Last weekend at Granite Noir, a crime writing festival in Aberdeen, Norwegian author Thomas Enger officially launched Killed. I want to share with you the satisfaction of reading the fifth and final book in the Henning Juul series, a Norwegian best seller.
Henning Juul, a journalist, is driven to discover why his son died. He knows it is something to do with the darker side of life in Norway and he is not afraid to explore this avenue of investigation. Juul is always pushing the limits as he follows an increasingly dangerous trail. In Killed we get to know some (less than salubrious) characters and their motivations in more depth, this keeps the reader interested in the story’s players. In previous books we got to know Nora, a journalist as well as Henning’s ex-partner (and mother of his dead son). Nora does not feature so heavily in Killed and I kind of missed her female journalistic insights as a balance to Juul’s hard nosed approach.
I do love a series of books. I like to invest in the characters, take time to imagine the locations and try to piece together the story which in Killed’s case spans mainly Scandinavia and South America. The Henning Juul series has a tight structure with complex characters who have a shared background. If you like to read a series or watch the longer Nordic Noir dramas on TV then this would be an excellent choice for you. That said, there is a list of characters at the beginning of Killed and the pace and tension built up in this book also make it work as a stand alone read.
Killed is expertly translated by Kari Dickson. There is no hint that the text is translated and having met and interviewed Thomas I feel that the English text very much reflects Thomas’s style of expression. The quality of storytelling is excellent and Kari definitely captures that.
Burned, Pierced, Scarred, Cursed and Killed – the titles of the books in the series may give you a clue of how this tale plays out. It is a series based around murder, political scandal, emotion, memories, death and love. Enger creates an atmosphere of despondency and tension that runs through the series. Killed is a satisfying read as a stand alone and is a particularly gratifying read as the final book in the series.
Read the books, go and hear Thomas Enger speak and tell his stories. I will be chairing a panel at Newcastle Noir in May featuring Thomas Enger along with other top Norwegian authors. Please come along.
You can read our review of Cursed here. This review was part of the Killed blog tour which runs February 1st to March 6th so if you want to read other reviews you should find many using an internet search.
Enger’s books are published in the UK by Orenda Books and previously by Faber & Faber.