Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high-profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series…
Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.
Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…
Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.
Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…
Hi and welcome to my stop on the Death Deserved blog tour! Massive thanks as always to Anne Cater for the invitation and to Orenda Books for the ARC!
Sweet baby Jesus, where do I even begin?! Well, let’s start with my initial reaction on Twitter:
Yes, my friends, this little mind-blown starfish was me! Or, in any case, it was what my mind felt like when I’d turned that final page. If one of your new year’s resolutions was to exercise more, Horst and Enger have you covered, forget that treadmill or the elliptical bike, just read Death Deserved! I felt like I’d run 10k, my breathing was so fast, my heart was racing, I’m pretty sure my blood pressure was through the roof! I’m not even exaggerating a little bit!
Now don’t worry, not the entire book is as nerve-wracking and explosive as the final part, which is quite fortunate really ‘cause I’m not sure my body could have handled 330 pages of that! However, the entire thing is in fact mind-blowingly clever, although that only dawned on me at the end, when all the little pieces come together and all the riddles are solved. The waters are so muddy that I couldn’t see anything, I could not for the life of me figure it all out, things didn’t add up and I knew it, but I couldn’t see what it was that I was missing. On page 290, in the final part when we’re finally allowed to see a little more of the killer, they ask with a self-satisfied smile: “Have you really not worked it out yet?” And it took all I had, literally EVERY ounce of self-control, not to shout – in a VERY irritated fashion I might add – that NO, I had clearly NOT worked ANYTHING out, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
It seems like such an exaggeration, but in that moment I was actually really annoyed with myself and the authors and Orenda Books! That is how much this story and this killer got under my skin. I felt like the mouse the cat had been toying with! Or maybe that’s just because the writing is so vivid and the main characters feel so real, that I felt like I was part of the story, and so when the killer slipped through the cracks once more, I could feel Blix’ and Emma’s disappointment and despair.
Speaking of Blix and Emma, let me tell you a little bit about them. We meet Blix as a rookie cop in the prologue, when he has to make a really tough decision that will haunt him for years to come. Fast-forward 19 years and Blix is still a police officer, his former partner is now his superior and his marriage has fallen apart. Emma Ramm is a celebrity reporter who unknowingly stumbles across a crime scene and calls it in. It appears that Sonja Nordstrøm, a former long-distance runner who was just about to publish her controversial autobiography, has been taken from her home. Now, you may wonder why the hell a police officer would try to solve a misper case with the help of a celebrity reporter, I know I did, but in fact there are many valid reasons for Blix to want to do just that. Emma is one smart cookie, and a tough one to boot. She’s inquisitive and determined and she was the first on the scene, the first to realise something was seriously off, so she won’t be fobbed off. And most of all, although Emma doesn’t realise it, Blix knows who she is, and to assuage his latent feelings of guilt towards her, he gives her much more intel on the case then he should.
If you’ve read the blurb you may wonder why I’m talking about a misper case when there’s clearly a killer on the loose in Norway. Well, there is, and it’s not your garden-variety killer either. A raving lunatic or a cold meticulous perfectionist? In my opinion, both! The abduction of Sonja is only the beginning and before long bodies start showing up all over the place. Why them, what do they have in common, except the fact that the killer obviously feels that these people deserve to die? With each body that’s found, the police realise that the killer is working towards some kind of apotheosis and they’re not quite there yet, so the clock is ticking, and alarmingly loud at that!
In case I wasn’t clear, let me summarise it for you: I loved this book! It starts out so innocuous, then gains momentum along the way, with this kind of filmic quality about it that, looking back, it’s like a story you watched on the telly instead of reading it in a book. Jørn Lier Horst is another brilliant Nordic addition to Casa Orenda and Death Deserved another shining star in the Nordic Noir galaxy. If you’re into Nordic Noir, this is a must read, and if you’re new to the genre, this is an excellent place to start.
Death Deserved is a disturbingly clever thriller, available in eBook now, out in paperback on 20 February, go get it! I’ll be here waiting with bated breath for the next Blix & Ramm.
Be sure to check out what Dave, my tour buddy for the day, and these other lovely people have to say about Death Deserved: