BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: FAITHLESS By Kjell Ola Dahl

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl, available now and  published by the wonderful Orenda Books

Faithless cover

From Goodreads
Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back and this time, it’s personal… When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again. 
 

Review
 
Faithless is the fifth book in the Oslo detectives series and yes, I’ve once again jumped into a series mid-way. If I didn’t know it was a series though I’m not sure I would’ve realized it because it very much reads as a standalone. I’m sure there are character threads woven throughout but I can’t say I noticed that I was missing anything.

The story begins with a stakeout and right away we meet Frank Frolich who’s staking out the house of a suspected robber. When a lady (Veronika Undset) leaves the house and he’s sent to follow and subsequently question her, several plot pieces are set in motion. It’s not long before Frank realizes his past seems to have firmly planted itself in his present, making him somewhat uncomfortable and on guard. Then a murder is committed leaving Frank stunned and searching for answers.

Frank’s comrade and fellow Oslo detective, Gunnarstranda, is investigating the disappearance of a University student so we are privy to 2 separate investigations which may or may not have connections. I found Gunnarstranda to be an interesting character as he sought to solve his case using old-fashioned detective work. His disdain for all the modern technology like CCTV’s was apparent and amusing. Then there’s Lena, a female colleague, who I have to say I never quite decided if I liked or not and then later in the story when she goes rogue and puts herself in a very precarious situation, I really thought that perhaps she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

Faithless is classic Nordic Noir in that the pace is slow, the clues are layed out gradually, and the detectives work fairly methodically. The sentence structure was often short and choppy which did take some getting used to on my part. One thing I really appreciated, however, was the linear timeline. The story progresses in a straightforward manner…no flashbacks!   Something that was missing for me in this book though was a sense of place. I never felt like I could picture the surroundings and the atmospheric details I’ve come to enjoy in other Nordic Noir novels weren’t there for me in this one. I did find the characterization to be strong and while the resolution of one of the mysteries seemed to be pretty lackluster, the other one was a surprise. I always love to be fooled and the author managed to pull one over on me in terms of the murder.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan for my copy of Faithless and Anne Cater for inviting me to be on the blog tour. I’m happy to provide an honest review.

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About the author

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

Be sure to stop by the other fantastic blogs on the tour 
 
 faithless-blog-tour
Faithless is available now for ebook and paperback in the UK. Publication for print in the US is Sept 1 or you can order now through Book Depository

REVIEW: SIRENS By Joseph Knox

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Sirens is the brooding and assured debut from Joseph Knox, the next big name in crime fiction.

Set in a sprawling, twilight northern city, Sirens introduces Aidan Waits, a disgraced young detective caught stealing drugs from evidence and subsequently blackmailed into going undercover. When an MP’s daughter runs away from home, Waits is sent to track her down and finds himself at the centre of a maelstrom of drugs, blackmail and deception.

Uncovering the motives of those involved, he’s thrown forwards through politicians, police and drug lords – towards a conclusion and a truth he really doesn’t want to know. 

******

Like the cover, the story within the pages of Sirens is edgy, realistic and full of dark, descending clouds of corruption, murder, and lies. This is a truly commanding and dynamic work of crime fiction like nothing I’ve read in a very, very long time. The story is told from the perspective of Aidan Waits, a down and out detective who’s managed to get himself into some serious hot water after he’s caught stealing drugs from the evidence locker. To say he’s flawed doesn’t really do him justice because he’s quite aware of the demons that follow him and more often than not he seems to encourage them. I absolutely love the first few sentences of the book which immediately set the tone and show us just a sliver of Aidan’s psyche….

       Afterwards I went back on to the night shift. They’d never trust me in the daylight again. I spent my time responding to 4 a.m. emergency calls, walking up and down dead escalators and trying not to think. I’d been good at that once…

Doesn’t that leave you wondering what happened that he’s back on shift night? Why will they never trust him again? Of course, those questions are just a tiny thread of the larger criminal web that Aidan finds himself entangled in. From dirty politicians to corrupt police to warring drug lords, the webs that were spun in this book left me feeling tense and off balance much of the time. I found myself wondering so often who was telling the truth, who could be trusted, was Aidan truly undercover or had the boundaries between his undercover life converged with his real one to become the same? With his continued drug and alcohol use, it was easy to see how Aidan could have crossed the undercover line to the criminal one with no chance of return.

The author does a brilliant job of creating a connection between the reader and Aidan by using flashbacks of Aidan’s childhood…where and how he grew up and what his heart is missing as a result. The social worker in me understood how his childhood had led him to his current dark place in life…the drugs, the alcohol, the dangerous situations that led to violence…but I also wondered if there could be redemption for Aidan in the end.

I’ve digressed a little in this review with my discussion of Aidan because he was one of the strongest protagonists I’ve rooted for in such a long time! I do, however, really want make sure I discuss some of the other amazing parts of this book. The setting of Manchester in the winter and the taut, detailed descriptions of everything from the weather to the club scenes to deserted buildings on the edge of town were written to perfection. I felt like I was there and it often made me feel very anxious and on edge.  What’s also at the core of this story is a couple extremely well plotted mysteries that had my head spinning with possibilities. Let me tell you, I in no way had anything figured out and I’m completely happy with that. In the end,  I was just holding out hope that Aidan could/would be saved… from corrupt police, psychopathic drug dealers…but most of all from himself.

5/5 Stars 

*Many thanks to Amy at NovelGossip.com for sending me her copy of this gem. You’re the best Amy!!

You can purchase Sirens at Amazon and Book Depository