Fiction – February 2020

A month of solid good quality reading. Plenty to enjoy here.

The first in Garry Disher’s series featuring DI Hal Challis working at the Peninsula, south-east of Melbourne, Australia. Fortunately for us readers, while Challis is a well drawn and interesting character, the supporting cast is more robust and also worthy of attention. The backdrop is superbly drawn, with nuggets of observational beauty peppering the descriptions of life and death in this part of the world. The main plot here is about a serial killer targeting young women. While the plot is not as complex as some of the genre, it has enough twists to satisfy and is credible. In short, a good police procedural novel. Continue reading

Fiction – January 2020

You can tell I’ve been on holiday. There’s a lot of reading here. (Probably some of these belong with December’s reading, but at least I remembered to review them.)

Part of my Connelly reread. This one involves a dead body found in the trunk of a car. Bosch sorts it out, but not without some more danger, some twists, and the usual inter office politics. Great stuff.

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The Hunting Dogs – Jorn Lier Horst

This is a book in the series about policeman William Wisting, which starts in English with Dregs, and continues with Closed for Winter. So far, it’s my favorite.

Seventeen years ago, Wisting solved one of the country’s most famous crimes: the kidnap and murder of Cecilia Linde. Now released, the convicted killer claims he was framed, and starts a court action to put things right. From the claim, it appears that key evidence was fabricated, and Wisting is suspended pending an investigation. Meantime, in an apparently unrelated incident, a man out walking his dog is murdered, and when Wisting’s daugther turn’s up at the dead man’s house, chasing the story, she is assaulted by a masked man, presumed to be the killer. Then another young woman goes missing, and things are going from bad to worse.

Wisting, inevitably, decides to investigate the case of the fabricated evidence on his own, despite the suspension. His daughter – somewhat embarrassed because her newspaper heavily promoted the claim by the convicted killer, and suggested her dad was to blame – follows her own trail to see what she can find out about the dead dog walker. She has tenacity, and smarts, and focus, and her dad’s counsel, so it is no surprise that she makes some headway. And the police are somewhat focused on the missing girl.

I felt that the writing in this book had improved over the previous ones, though it may also be the case that I was so rushed along by the page turning plot I didn’t pay enough attention. Or, maybe it was because the three books about Wisting had built up a more comprehensive and interesting character than previously I had encountered. Whatever, I really quite enjoyed this one, and would recommend it. I don’t think there’s as much merit in reading the first two, so this would be a better place to start the series for most people in my view.

Closed for Winter – Jorn Lier Horst


This is the follow on to Dregs, being a Norwegian set crime novel featuring William Wisting, a wise and experienced detective. This time around, he is asked to look into the strange case of multiple break ins to some holiday cottages in Vestfold, complicated by the unwelcome addition of a murdered, balaclava masked man. Who is he, and what is his connection to the break ins? The discovery starts Wisting’s adventures, as he endeavors to unravel the mystery. At the same time, his journalist daughter Line is experiencing some relationship problems. She decides to take a break in a cottage near the crime scene – against Wisting’s advice – and finds herself on the edge of events.

There’s a decent plot here, and the characterization is not bad at all. However, as with Dregs, the author seems to often break the show don’t tell guideline, and chucks a lot of descriptive information in to the mix in a very direct and unsubtle fashion. I prefer more of the tale to come from dialogue or action or both. Also, the translation went a bit off trail a couple of times; nothing serious, but enough to know that this was not written in English.

The setting is well done, but does not overpower the story telling. Similarly, the Wisting character is no superman, but a believable human being, who does not deflect too much attention from the flow of the tale. The daughter, Line, was an interesting character, and I would liked to have learned more about her. Perhaps she will get her own series in the future.

Not bad, but not great.