Dregs – Jorn Lier Horst

Setting: Stavern, Norway.

Story: A severed left foot in is found on the shore. Then another. And another. And another. Who are the victims, what’s the connection, and who killed them? Inspector William Wisting is on the case…

Good Stuff: The unraveling of the plot is well done; it’s well paced, and maintains reader interest in the mystery. Wisting’s daughter is a journalist. She returns to the area as part of her current project about the effect of prison on convicted murderers. Inevitably, there is some interaction with the major mystery, but that’s as far as I will go. She brings a different angle to the story without hijacking it.

Apart from these two characters, there’s not much of depth about the people, but the story holds up on its own.

The final disclosure is also handled well, and the overall impression is of a believable, well constructed piece of crime fiction.

The setting does not overpower, so while this is Scandinavian crime fiction, the effect on the story is minimal – but interesting. What is it? Think of the Cold War, and you’ll be on the right track.

Not So Good Stuff: Wisting is feeling his age, and his self absorption is occasionally overdone. At times the introspection is wooden, and uninteresting. The character is just not good enough for what is attempted.

Also, some of the writing goes off the rails with patches of raw explanation that jar. It looks as if there were aspects of the book the author could not bother to package inside character, dialogue or a combination.

On the other hand, it could be the translation. Sometimes the sentence construction came across as plain wrong. I kept going, but it did not enthuse me.

Finally, though this cannot be blamed on the author, it’s a part of a series. But although it is the first to be translated into English, it’s (I think) the fifth or sixth. Not nice if you really want to read them in order.

Score: 6/10.