Detective Frank Frølich is in a bit of a spot. A few days ago he arrested a woman after finding cocaine in her purse. That night he attended a birthday party for old school chum Karl Anders where he met Karl’s new fiancée, Veronika Undset….yup, the woman he arrested. Well, that was awkward.
Unfortunately, the next time they meet is after her horribly beaten body is pulled from a dumpster. Frank is uneasy about having personal ties to a murder investigation & requests to be left off the case. Even though they hadn’t spoken for years before the party, he knows Karl will be front & centre as a suspect. Besides, he has another case that needs attention. Rosalind M’Taya is a beautiful, young exchange student who came to study in Oslo for the summer & promptly disappeared. When Frank finds all her belongings still in her room, he knows she didn’t leave willingly.
Inspector Gunnarstranda needs all hands on deck & denies Frank’s request. Another body has been found & the victim had ties to Veronika. And so they begin the process of picking apart her life, gathering an odd assortment of suspects as they dig.
This is a fast paced procedural that definitely qualifies as Nordic Noir. As Frank & Gunnarstranda follow separate lines of investigation, they both encounter people who are shifty, scary and/or crazy. Early on there are hints something happened between Frank & Karl when they were teenagers that led to them drifting apart. As the story progresses, Frank has to come to terms with the event & his role in how it all played out.
Along with the cast of suspects, we also meet other members of the police & forensic units. Personal details & glimpses of their private lives help flesh out the characters. But it’s Frank we get to know best as he works the murder case & continues his hunt for Rosalind. He’s a smart cop & complex man who is forced to confront past mistakes & fears. He may not like what he finds & although both cases are solved the results take their toll, personally & professionally.
Many Scandinavian thrillers are very different stylistically from their typical American cousins. There’s no spoon feeding here. Not everything is spelled out & some questions go unanswered. And just as you reach the end….well, turns out the author kept a few zingers in reserve.
It’s my first time reading this author & although I found 5 books listed as part of the Oslo Detectives series, I was unable to determine where this one fit in. As usual, Don Bartlett has done a stellar translation & I look forward to catching up with Frank & Gunnarstranda in the next one.