#BlogTour #Review : The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks #TheCourier #NordicNoir

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this amazing book. Although I like historical fiction, the 1940’s is not a time period I would usually read, however this book appealed to me and was getting such good feedback that I couldn’t resist. So, read on and find out if it lived up to my expectations.

courier blog poster 2019

Blurb:   In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

 

The Courier aw.indd

 

My Review:  I’m typing this in my kitchen, perhaps an odd location to type a review but it means I have to stand which is good when I sit a lot at work everyday. While standing here I can here road noise, traffic from the street at the end of mine. My street is quiet save for distant sounds of children playing and birdsong and, having read this book I realise, listening to these sounds how lucky I am to be able to do this without fear of any kind. I can travel to work and not worry about being locked out of work or home or having my possessions taken from me. The anniversaries of both World Wars, Remembrance Sunday and the other commemorations are hugely important but mostly they focus on those who fought, they don’t really tell us about the people who had to live in occupied cities.

From television, school lessons and general discussions I know a lot about the events of the second World War but what I know less about is how people, ordinary people, lived during that time.  While the characters in this book are not entirely ordinary they are not military either and the story is crafted in such a way that you can feel the tension in the pages, in those set in 1942, but also in the ones set in 1967. You can feel the lies, deceit and subterfuge that seems to still exist between those characters from 1942, even though the war is long since over. I spent a lot of time while reading this book, deeply concerned for the characters, particularly Ester as she tries to live some kind of life in a world in which she has no control over what happens and doesn’t know who she can trust.

This is a profound story, it shows how upheaval, loss and plotting can impact someone’s life. Can Ester trust those around her? in the scenes set in 1967 will she ever find out the truth? and, for that matter, will we?

The writing in the book is outstanding. The characters are brilliantly written but the stand out one is Ester, she is so real that I keep wondering how she would feel about certain things before I realise she’s fictional and can’t answer me. This isn’t one of those stories that feels it has to make everything larger than life, there are subtleties her, words that are so heavy with meaning they make you want to stop reading and look outside and remind yourself that the world has changed and you aren’t living in the book.

This is a book that everyone should read, whether you are interested in historical fiction or not. Read it and then truly appreciate what you have, look outside and be amazed at the sunshine as I am doing in pauses in between typing. I know the sun shines because of the Earth’s rotation but I always find it hard to believe that it could ever have been sunny in the 1940’s while the war was on, for how could there be sunshine when so much horror and cruelty existed. Read this book, and then appreciate simple things like the sun shining because these are the things we take for granted and we really shouldn’t. And now that I’ve said all of that I’m going to stand outside and enjoy the sun and the breeze because I can.

 

 

About the author:

Kjell Ola Dahl-Rolf-M-Aagaard

 

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl

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Synopsis:  Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal…

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her … and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers –
and the killer – before he strikes again.

Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.

 

Faithless cover

My Review:

I’m a bit late to the Scandi/Nordic Noir obsession.  I was aware of the television programmes but oddly, for a crime fiction fan, I didn’t watch any of them so the whole thing passed me by until I discovered Ragnar Jonasson’s books and decided to try them.  Once I did that I was in.  I’m slowly reading more of these books and trying new authors in this genre and this book is no exception.

While reading this book I struggled to work out what it was that I was enjoying about it.  Make no mistake I did enjoy it but it took a while for me to put my finger on why.  There are two reasons: one is the writing style.  I love the writing style that only writers of these books seem to have.  I’m not sure if it’s in part because it has been translated into English rather than written in English originally but whatever it is it is perfect.  This leads into the second reason which is the story, or rather the lack of the characters stories.  This, for me, was very much a plot driven book.  There was information about the police characters and obviously sufficient information about the victims, witnesses and other characters in the story but there was only as much information given as was needed.  There was no excessive background to anything and while I like background to characters, because of the way this book was written the little information that was supplied was enough, I didn’t want or feel I needed more.

When you look at this book, the print version, it doesn’t seem particularly large especially compared to some of the other books I have.  However, this comparison is misleading because for all that it appears to lack in size it makes up for in density.  This is not a hard read by any means but because the author has not wasted words on anything unnecessary he has been able to fit a lot of information, plot and description into fewer pages.  This makes the reading experience quite unique. There is enough description to get a feel for the building, room, street, wherever the character is but not so much that you’re still reading about it three lines later.  You get given what you need and that’s it and I find that quite impressive.  It’s the same with the characters, there are a lot of characters in this book but it never gets confusing as to who is who or what is happening next.

This is a skillfully written book that takes you on a journey with the characters and lets you see and feel exactly what they do without getting bogged down in extraneous information.  It’s almost as crisp and clear as I imagine the winters in Norway are and I think that is what makes it so good.  This is definitely a book that crime fiction fans, especially those who love police procedurals are likely to enjoy but I would also recommend it for anyone who wants something a little different, or perhaps wants to try a new author.  There are so many authors out there to choose from but you won’t go far wrong if you pick this one.

 

Dahl-Kjell-Ola_Foto-Rolf-M-Aagaard

Author bio:  One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, 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.