Sunday, 27 September 2020

Sohlberg and the Missing Schoolboy - Jens Amundsen


A bit of a curiosity, this: a Norwegian police procedural written, under a pseudonym, by a Norwegian attorney who has spent a lot of time in the US and who has based this story, his first novel, on a real life US case, as yet unsolved.

The missing schoolboy is Karl Haugen, who has disappeared after a pre-school science fair.  He has been missing for a year and his parents are rich, so Commissioner Thorsen calls in his old rival, Harald Sohlberg, on permanent secondment to Interpol and based in America, to review the case and, ideally, find the killer.  He can have all the resources he wants, but all he wants is one assistant.  He gets Constable Wangelin, an ambitious young woman, eager to learn from the master.

The story is good.  Amundsen is interested in the psychology of crime and Sohlberg uses emotional intellect to reveal the killer.  It is all very clean and convincing.  The literary style is, however, horrible.  Instead of explaining the Norwegian terms, habits and lifestyle in authorial voice, or leaving us to find out for ourselves, Amundsen inserts it in dialogue - people who already know, explaining stuff to other people who already know.  I couldn't force myself to overlook this, or the ghastly cover art.  I liked it, but I that's about all I can say.

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