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Friday, 19 June 2015

‘The Human Flies’ by Hans Olav Lahlum

Published by Mantle,
5 June 2014.
ISBN: 978-0230769519

Detective Inspector Kolbjørn Kristiansen is called to the murder of a former Resistance hero ... and it soon becomes clear that he’s been killed by one of his neighbours.

This homage to Christie is narrated by DI Kristiansen (K2), and there’s a strong touch of a Hastings voice: he’s keen, ambitious and thinks he knows what he’s doing. The Poirot figure is Patricia, a brilliant but reclusive young woman who’s in a wheelchair after a car accident, and part of the fun of the book is seeing how she runs rings round K2, who – this is 1968 – is inclined to underestimate her as a mere girl. The past setting is lightly but convincingly done, and the plot satisfyingly convoluted, as the characters are swatted off like flies, with twists, motives and alibis abounding. There’s a convincing ending and surprise unmasking of the real killer. However I felt this pastiche also exposed the weakness of the Golden Age puzzle style; we’ve become accustomed to more psychological depth in our crime novels.

An enjoyable return to the world of Agatha Christie, with a Norwegian setting.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Hans Olav Lahlum is a Norwegian crime author, historian, chess player and politician. The books that make up his crime trilogy, featuring Criminal Investigator Kolbjørn Kristiansen (known as K2) and his precocious young assistant Patricia, are bestsellers in Norway.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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