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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

‘Faithless’ by Kjell Ola Dahl

Translated by Don Bartlett
Published by Orenda Books,
15 May 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-910633-27-4 (PBO)

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frolich is shocked to discover he knows her – she’s engaged to his former best friend ...

This classic PP is narrated alternately in the third person following the heads of Frolich and his boss, Gunnerstranda, who is on leave as events start, but who becomes involved once the body is found. There’s also a third person whose thoughts we see, the young policewoman Lena, who’s having a dangerous affair with another officer, and who uses herself as a honey-trap later in the story. The plot is clever, with several strands to the investigation: Frolich is following the dead woman, Veronika, and his friend Karl Anders, but he’s also trying to figure out Veronika’s links with the local mobster, and trace a missing overseas student, while Gunnerstranda finds Veronika’s death reminiscent of a cold case he worked on years ago; there’s no DNA on Veronika’s body, but DNA was found on the first dead girl – if only they can find a match.

The detectives contrasted well with each other, with Gunnerstranda’s home life and loving wife, Tove, set against Frolich’s dark past, and Lena’s difficult present, and there was a good feel of life in an Oslo police station. The pace speeds up as the novel progresses, with a cliff-hanger for one character jumping straight to the investigations of the other – at one point, I thought a chapter had gone missing, as the cliff-hanger was left, well, hanging, until a casual mention told us how it had ended.

A fast-moving Norwegian PP with good characters and setting.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

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.

A review of her recent book Ghosts of the Vikings can be read here.

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