Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.
Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, Blix instantly recognises her as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.
Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…
Hi and welcome to my review of Smoke Screen!
Smoke Screen is the second instalment in the Blix and Ramm series but you can easily jump in at this point if you missed the first one, Death Deserved, although I must warn you that you’ll want to go back once you’ve read this one, so you might as well start at the beginning (just saying).
New Year’s Eve 2018-2019. Emma Ramm is still reeling from the events in Death Deserved. She just wants to enjoy her job as the new crime reporter for news.no and her budding relationship, but she nonetheless forces herself to face her fears by going to the NYE fireworks at Oslo harbour, she’d been having an ominous feeling of impending catastrophe… And as such, facing her fears pretty much backfires when there’s a huge explosion at the stroke of midnight. Terrorism? A targeted attack? In any case, one of the victims appears to be the mother of Patricia Smeplass, a girl who went missing ten years earlier, and Alexander Blix’s largest and most frustrating case to date.
This explosion is only the tip of the iceberg Blix and Ramm will be uncovering throughout the pages of Smoke Screen. With every lead muddying the waters even more instead of giving them (and me!) some solace, I was on tenterhooks. I wanted to speedread my way through the last part, that’s how desperate I was to finally find out what was going on, to see the picture all the separate pieces made. I had to force myself to slow down, it’s much too good to rush!
Horst and Enger are definitely the king and emperor of short and snappy – and highly addictive – chapters. Even at the beginning, when I was intrigued but things had not quite heated up so much that I was desperate for answers, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Switching from Emma’s POV to Blix’s I was always eager for more and by the time I’d reached the fifty page mark, I was 100% addicted.
I have to say, the Blix and Ramm series is rapidly becoming my favourite Nordic Noir series to date, no mean feat, as I’ve become quite fond of the genre over the last couple of years and I have quite the list to compare it to. Then again, what can you expect when two Nordic Noir masters join forces? Excellence, that’s what, and that, in a word, is just what Smoke Screen offers.
Besides the intricately woven and highly entertaining plots, I also enjoy their characterisations. I hugely admire Emma. She lost both parents at a very young age, she has an illness that caused her to lose all her hair, so she’s been through the wringer already and you’d forgive her gladly if she were to have a breakdown now, in the face of yet more adversity. But she doesn’t. Broken and fragile though she might be, she picks up the pieces and gets on with things, nipping all moaning, what ifs or coulda woulda shouldas in the bud, which makes her such a strong, and somehow very real, female lead.
Beautifully atmospheric in its icy Norwegian setting, Smoke Screen is a mesmerising tale, an intricate and intelligent yet high-octane story, and highly recommended to fans of the Nordic Noir genre, and lovers of thrillers alike.
Huge thanks to Orenda Books for the gorgeous proof copy! All opinions are my own.
Smoke Screen is out today in digital format! Paperback lovers will have to wait until February next year, but let me tell you, it’s well worth the wait!