Investigator Sofia Kovic has uncovered a connection between several deaths and murder cases in Oslo over the last year and a half. She tries to call her closest superior, Alexander Blix, not yet wanting to involve anyone else in the police, but before Blix has time to return her call, Kovic is shot and killed in her own home – execution style. And in the apartment below, Blix’s daughter Iselin narrowly escapes becoming the killer’s next victim.
Four days later, Blix and online crime journalist Emma Ramm are locked inside an interrogation room, facing the National Criminal Investigation Service. Blix has shot and killed a man, and Ramm saw it all happen. In the hospital, Iselin’s life hangs in the balance. Blix no longer knows who he can trust. And he’s not even certain he’s killed the right man…
Hi and welcome to my review of Unhinged!
Massive thanks to Anne Cater for the tour invite and to Orenda Books for the eARC!
After Death Deserved and Smoke Screen, Unhinged is the third book featuring police officer Alexander Blix and crime blogger Emma Ramm. I’ve been with this series from the start, it’s an absolute corker and this third instalment is the very best yet. If you’re new to the series, note that you can definitely read Unhinged as a standalone, but when you’ve finished it you’re gonna want to read the others too so you might as well start there, just saying.
Unhinged kicks off with an interrogation room scene: Blix is being interrogated at Kripos, the Norwegian National Crime Investigation Service, for shooting a suspect. Through this interrogation and Emma’s as well, and a number of flashback chapters, we are able to put the pieces of this puzzle together. However, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye and it’ll be up to Blix and Ramm to uncover what I consider to be a veritable evil.
Unhinged, to me, felt a lot darker than its predecessors. It raises the stakes for Blix considerably, by involving his daughter (with Blix channeling his inner Liam Neeson). And as a consequence, it raises the stakes for the reader as well: if we haven’t already been there, I’m sure we can all imagine what it must be like to have a loved one whose life is hanging by a thread, while we’re powerless and waiting for news, any news. For me, it made Unhinged the most emotional, but also the most powerful instalment in this series so far.
Unhinged is another tour de force from two Norwegian masters of crime. It never ceases to amaze me that you never know where Thomas Enger stops and Jørn Lier Horst begins, and vice versa. Kudos as well to Megan Turney for another fantastic translation that manages to keep the Norwegian vibe going, preserving the authors’ voices throughout, while presenting a story that could have been written originally in English.
I just have to take a minute here, if you’ll allow it, to
sneak in a mini review of talk about Thomas Enger’s music. I never listen to music while I read, it’s too distracting, but for some reason I thought I might enjoy some instrumental music while reading Unhinged. What better music to choose than the music created by one of the authors? Moods from Norway and Pure & Simple were the perfect audio companions to this story. These songs set the mood perfectly, simultaneously fragile and powerful, which means they fit the story and its main characters perfectly, and it made for the loveliest reading experience.
Unhinged is a brilliant book, it’s as easy as that. I said in my last review that this series is rapidly becoming my favourite Nordic Noir series to date, well kids, I think we’re there. Intelligent, intricate, but extremely readable, it gives you mystery galore, action, shooting scenes, police procedural, emotion, and the very best characters, while teeming with atmosphere. It draws you in and spits you back out after 300-something pages, feeling utterly bereft. (Fortunately, there’s the acknowledgements to ease your pain before you go.)
Unhinged is out now in digital and audio formats and will be out in paperback on the 17th. (Pre)order directly from Orenda Books here.