‘Ordeal,’ by Jorn Lier Horst

Ordeal

In the most recent William Wisting novel in translation, Ordeal, we find Chief Inspector Wisting’s journalist daughter, Line, on maternity leave. She is going to be a single mother. Wisting is not over the moon about this (and neither am I), but it’s certainly consistent with the reality of modern Norwegian culture.

Line meets, by chance, an old school friend, Sophie, who is already a single mother. They renew their friendship, and Line gets to see Sophie’s home, which she inherited from her grandfather. Sophie was not fond of the old man – he was a criminal – so she’s cleared all his possessions out. Except for a huge safe in the basement, too large to move. She doesn’t know what’s in it because she can’t find the key. But both Line and Sophie are curious, so they do get into it eventually – with dramatic results.

Meanwhile, Wisting himself is enduring a lot of press criticism, because of an investigation he’s leading which is making no visible progress. A taxi driver disappeared one night, and neither he nor the cab has been seen since. Wisting and his team will find their inquiry overlapping one going on in another city, and will encounter resistance from a suspiciously territorial detective there.

And, as has become usual in these books, Line’s mystery will turn out to be tied in as well.

The William Wisting books suffer, I think, from slow middles. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but I fear they will lose some readers who expect lots of fireworks all the way through. There’s plenty of tension and suspense in Ordeal once it gets going, but it does take a little time.

The translation is generally good, but has some truly clunky moments.

Recommended, for readers who prefer a more cerebral approach to detective fiction. Cautions for mature stuff. I’m looking forward to the next book.

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