I’m so pleased to welcome you to my stop on the Cursed blog tour today! I’m sharing today with The Pages In Between so please visit there as well.
What’s it about?
When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Norway’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. When their lives are threatened, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.
Chilling, gritty and unputdownable, Cursed marks the return of one of Norway’s finest crime writers.
About the author
Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.
The characters as well as the story itself are incredibly and beautifully mastered in this novel and were able to impress me on both counts. Nora and Henning were once a happy couple. They both still have warm feelings for each other and especially the latter still acts and feels as if he’s a star-crossed lover throughout the story. It was so believable even I thought it was a shame they weren’t together anymore. After a tragedy took their little boy away from them they dealt with their loss in their own way and Nora was better at finding a way forward in life than Henning was so their separation was understandable in a way. This personal story is definitely a bonus and I really liked getting to know these characters in their thoughts and feelings in the aftermath of their personal tragedy.
While Henning is still searching for whoever is responsible for their son’s death, Nora is asked to investigate the disappearance of an old college friend. Hedda told her husband she was going away to some spa retreat but never reached her destination. Neither Henning nor Nora is working as a police officer – they are both journalists – yet the story still reads like a full-fledged investigation. They are both working separately and in very different circles, Henning trying to establish contacts with criminals and Nora with Hedda’s wealthy family members where she senses some of them may be lying and there are definitely secrets being kept. But who’s keeping them and who has knowledge of them?
I kept on wondering if these storylines would come together at some point. It seemed unlikely and I couldn’t imagine how or when. Neither did I understand why this novel opened with a chilling scene of some lonely dog walker who walked right into a trap, an event that seemed so unrelated to the rest and was not spoken of again, until the right moment finally presented itself and shows this is actually the crux of the story. I can only conclude that the plot was wonderfully complex. Both threads do have a hand in the other one believe it or not and there’s even more mystery added when one of their investigations leads to the uncovering of another past disappearance. Mystery upon mystery isn’t that the best of the best?! Both Henning and Nora will get themselves in some serious danger too, and it’s definitely coming from where you least expect it. There’s also a big cliffhanger ending but it’s not a bad one, just makes me even more curious about the next novel!
This is the fourth novel in the series but it works perfectly as a standalone. There’s so much shared about the main characters’ personal lives that, even though I hadn’t met them before, I couldn’t help but feel connected.
If this is Nordic Noir then I’m definitely a fan. I’ve always been a bit afraid that the unpronounceable Nordic names would put me off or stop the flow of a story and there would be too many scenic descriptions in such a genre but I can’t believe I held it off for so long; my fear was entirely unfounded and these issues were completely irrelevant in this novel. If you’re new to the Nordic Noir genre, this must be the perfect novel to ease into it.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
Check out the other tour stops too :