“Smoke Screen” by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst – Book Review

translated from the Norwegian by Megan Turney

This police procedural, set in Oslo, Norway, is the second to feature policeman Alexander Blix and blogger/journalist Emma Ramm.

Blix is a twenty year veteran of the Oslo police. Shortly after his career began he was involved in a fatal shooting that has now become part of the police academy’s syllabus.  Since then, his partner at the time, Gard Fosse, has risen through the ranks and is now Blix’s boss. While Fosse is a ‘by the book‘ type of policeman, Blix is more ‘by the gut‘. Blix is not ambitious for career advancement because he loves the investigative side of his work and would hate to leave that for a desk job.

On a personal level, Blix is divorced and the father of daughter named Iselin, who is in her early twenties.

Blix’s work partner, Sofia Kovic, is twenty-seven years old and has only been working with Blix for less than a year.

Emma Ramm is in her late twenties. A celebrity blogger/journalist for news.no, she has ties to Alexander Blix. Ties that make Blix feel somewhat responsible for her. Emma is an interesting character in that she keeps herself to herself and has a medical condition that she hides from everyone except her sister.  When Emma’s boyfriend is killed in a New Year’s Eve bombing, she turns to the solace of work as a distraction from her grief. Her inquisitive nature will bring her into mortal danger…

On New Year’s Eve in downtown Oslo, a bomb is detonated on the stroke of midnight. Hundreds of New Year’s revelers are watching the firework display. Five of them will die…

Ten years previously, a sixteen month old baby girl was abducted. The case was never solved… Is baby Patricia alive or dead?

With ingenious plotting, this book will explain how these two cases are inextricably linked.

It was great catching up with both the protagonists from the first novel in this series, “Death Deserved“.

Blix is clever, a born copper, who follows his gut instincts to conduct his behavior at work. His workaholic mentality has jeopardized his relationship with his wife and daughter. Now divorced, he lives in an impersonal flat in which he spends as little time as possible. This time out, his daughter Iselin moves in with him…

I enjoyed witnessing the evolving work partnership between Blix and Sofia Kovic and look forward to reading about more of their endeavors in future books.  The cleverly orchestrated, and very complex crimes in this book had me avidly turning pages.

In this novel Sofia Kovic is tasked with leading her first murder investigation when Blix is tied up with the bombing/abduction cases.

Emma, a driven and ambitious blogger journalist, is also very clever and presented as a sympathetic and empathetic character. Her childhood trauma and tragedy served to make her someone whom you just have to root for. In this book, she loses her boyfriend when he is a victim of the explosion on New Year’s Eve.

The Norwegian and Danish names of the myriad characters in the book were somewhat of a challenge to this solely English speaking reader.

The book covers some fascinating themes such as parental guilt, abduction, and revenge.

I am eternally amazed when I learn that two authors have co-written a book. The fact that two minds can cause a seamless narrative is astounding. Add in the fact that this book is written by two authors AND is a translation, makes the achievement even more astounding.

Smoke Screen” is an absorbing and engrossing crime thriller that I can highly recommend to all fans of the genre.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Orenda Books via Karen Sullivan.

Published: December 18, 2020    Publisher: Orenda Books

ISBN: 9781913193560   ASIN: B08DTHMGJS     315 pages

Smoke Screen” is the second crime thriller jointly written by two internationally acclaimed Norwegian authors.

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of five books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017. Rights have been sold to Germany and Iceland. Thomas Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Follow him on Twitter @EngerThomas or on Facebook www.facebook.com/thomas.enger.77

Jørn Lier Horst is a former Senior Investigating Officer at the Norwegian police force. He made his literary debut as a crime writer in 2004 and is now considered one of the foremost Nordic crime writers. His William Wisting series of crime novels has been extremely successful, having sold more than 1 million copies in Norway. The series has also been translated into thirty languages. Dregs, sixth in the series, was published in English by Sandstone Press in 2011. The next book, Closed for Winter, won Norway’s Booksellers’ Prize in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Riverton Prize. The Hunting Dogs, won both the prestigious Golden Revolver, for best Norwegian crime, and The Glass Key, which widened the scope to best crime fiction in all the Nordic countries, in 2013. He has a beloved dog named Theodor.

Follow him on Twitter @LierHorst or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JornLierHorst/

Megan Turney is originally from the West Midlands, and after having spent several years working back and forth between the UK and the Hardanger region of Norway, she is now based in Edinburgh, working as a commercial and literary translator and editor. She was the recipient of the National Centre for Writing’s 2019 Emerging Translator Mentorship in Norwegian, and is a published science fiction critic. She holds an MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, as well as an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Manchester.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Nordic noir, novels in translation, Orenda Books, Scandinavian and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to “Smoke Screen” by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst – Book Review

  1. Pingback: “Unhinged” by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst – Book Review | Fictionophile

  2. Pingback: “Unhinged” by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst – Book Review @OrendaBooks @EngerThomas @LierHorst #BookReview #BlixAndRamm #NordicNoir | Fictionophile

  3. Fab review! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Smoke Screen as well. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pink Roses says:

    Onto my list straight away. I can’t resist!

    Liked by 1 person

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