Joining the dots in Norway and Kenya: Little Drummer by Kjell Ola Dahl tr. Don Bartlett #bookreview #LittleDrummer

Godfather of Nordic Noir Kjell Ola Dahl returns with a tense, sophisticated, searingly relevant international thriller that explodes the Nordic Noir genre, as Frølich and Gunnarstranda travel the globe to investigate exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications.
When a woman is found dead in her car in a Norwegian parking garage, everyone suspects an overdose … until a forensics report indicates that she was murdered. Oslo Detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda discover that the victim’s Kenyan scientist boyfriend has disappeared, and their investigations soon lead them into the shady world of international pharmaceutical deals.
While Gunnarstranda closes in on the killers in Norway, Frølich and Lise, his new journalist ally, travel to Africa, where they make a series of shocking discoveries about exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications.
When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, all three investigators face incalculable danger, spanning two continents. And not everyone will make it out alive…
Exploding the confines of the Nordic Noir genre, Little Drummer is a sophisticated, fast-paced, international thriller with a searingly relevant, shocking premise that will keep you glued to the page. 


Hi and welcome to my review of Little Drummer!

Little Drummer is an earlier instalment of the Oslo Detectives series, first published in Norway in 2003. If you’ve read the later books, you know you’ll have to pick this one up too, but if you’re new to the series this is an excellent place to start, especially if you like your Nordic Noir on the midsummer sunny side, with a bit of Sunshine Noir thrown in for good measure.

Little Drummer hits the ground running with a case that somewhat accidentally ends up on our favourite Oslo detectives’ desks. A suspected overdose, until an autopsy report – requested largely just for the heck of it – shows that this young woman was in fact a murder victim. The investigation soons points to a Kenyan scientist, and before detective Frølich knows what’s hit him, he’s on a plane to Kenya, and so is the journalist who discovered the murder victim and is now the bane of his existence… or is she?

While Frølich is trying to join the dots in Africa, Gunnarstranda is doing the same in Norway. I loved both settings. Cold and dark Norwegian settings are great, but I have a certain weakness for the Nordic midsummer, it has an eeriness all of its own, a unique atmosphere in which I love to immerse myself.

As usual, I jumped in without reading the blurb so I had no idea that this was an earlier instalment, nor that it would take me to Africa. Both were a nice surprise! This is one of the few series I’ve read completely out of order but I always find my bearings quickly. All the cases stand on their own and it’s always such a joy to dip into a new one.

This particular case is intriguing to say the least, and it sure had my little grey cells churning and turning! While it’s clear that this initial murder only scratches the surface of a much bigger and more sordid affair, I had no clue what and who was lurking beneath it. Fortunately, the Oslo detectives were able to put the pieces of the jigsaw together, my version looked more like a weird kind of Guernica 😬

Little Drummer is another entertaining, well-written and well-plotted instalment of a great classic Nordic Noir series that I’m always happy to return to.

Little Drummer is out now in digital formats, the paperback will follow in May. (Pre)order directly from Orenda Books here.

Thanks to Orenda Books for the eARC. All opinions are my own.

2 Responses

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *