Wisting had found his own way: easy, quiet and patient. He could listen without letting his emotions get in the way, put himself in the other person’s shoes and demonstrate empathy. In time he had learned that, deep inside, all human beings are afraid of being alone. Afraid of loneliness, everyone craved a hearing.
On to the third novel (available in English) in Jørn Lier Horst’s William Wisting police procedural series. Chief Inspector William Wisting of Larvik, Norway finds himself suspended from the force at the beginning of The Hunting Dogs. 17 years ago he led a team of detectives who built a successful case against a man for the kidnapping and murder of a young model. Now that man is suing, claiming he has proof that the DNA evidence was faked.
Before he leaves Wisting manages to persuade the police archivist to lend him the old case files. He knows he didn’t cheat on the case, but what if one of his colleagues did? About the time he leaves, the rest of the squad starts investigating another kidnapping, that of a teenaged girl.
The pattern with the Wisting novels is that there are two plot strands. One involves the case Wisting himself is working. But at the same time we follow his journalist daughter Line as she pursues a story of her own, always one that resonates to some extent with her father’s case. This time she’s doing a feature on men who’ve served long (by Norwegian standards) sentences in prison, examining how they have changed, and whether their punishment made them more or less likely to offend again. One of the men she’ll be interviewing is the man who’s suing her father. The drama builds to a frightening confrontation.
This was the first novel in the series that I read, and I liked it very much. The reader is left, not only with an entertaining experience, but with human and societal questions to ponder. And yet no overt politics are apparent.
Cautions for mature themes and language. Recommended.
Investigating a murder case with an unknown perpetrator was like picking the label off a beer bottle. It was never possible to remove it in one piece. Instead it had to be torn off one ragged little section at a time.
This is the second book available in English, in Jorn Lier Horst’s William Wisting police procedural series, set in Norway. In Closed For Winter, Wisting’s daughter Line, a journalist, has broken up with her slightly shady boyfriend, and is spending time at her father’s seaside cottage. While she’s there, the police are called to a cottage not far away. Several cottages have been broken into and robbed, but in one of them a dead body has been found. The victim has been shot and bludgeoned, and he’s found wearing a balaclava over his face. An ambulance comes to remove the body, but it gets hijacked and set on fire. Then a second gunshot victim is found dead in a beached boat.
As Inspector Wisting and his team try to identify the dead and figure out what’s going on, they are also concerned with rumors of tensions among criminal gangs and the plans (revealed by an informant) of a particular gang to rob a bank vault. The plot tension rises constantly, and there are a couple very neat surprises at the end.
I liked Closed For Winter. It didn’t have the ordinary feel of Scandinavian Noir. There’s a strong dose of compassion for people forced into crime by poverty, balanced with a steadfast defense of the law. These are character-driven stories, and that pleases me.
Recommended. Cautions for language and mature subject matter.
You probably recall how I feel about “Scandinavian Noir” mysteries. In general I consider them dank, grotesquely nihilistic, and overrated. However, I recently got a tip about Jorn Lier Horst’s Norwegian series starring Chief Inspector William Wisting (you pronounce the “W’s” as “V’s”). I’m quite enjoying them, to my considerable surprise.
William Wisting is a detective in the small community of Larvik, in the general area of Oslo. He’s a widower, has a girlfriend, and gets on well with his two adult children. His daughter Line (pronounced “LEE-neh”) is a newspaper journalist. Although Wisting worries about the risks she takes in her work, he respects her talent and industry, and she’s happy to assist him in his research from time to time.
Dregs is not the first book in the Wisting series (nor the first I read) but it’s the first in sequence to be translated into English, so I’m reviewing it first. The story begins with the discovery of an athletic shoe (a “trainer” as they call them in Europe), washed up on a beach. The shoe is a left shoe, and it contains a human foot. A few days later another shoe and foot wash up – but it’s another left foot. And then there’s another, also a left. Continue reading ‘Dregs,’ by Jorn Lier Horst