Over recent years I have become a great fan of Nordic noir, and was delighted when the above landed in my letterbox. As soon as I began to read it, I realised it bore very little resemblance to Mankell or Nesbo. This series, of which this is the second, is set in 60's Norway. The protagonist, who tells the story, is Criminal Investigator Kolbjorn Kristiansen, known as K2.
Laidlum is a great admirer of Agatha Christie, to whom this book is dedicated.
Indeed it is in many ways a pastiche of what we must now call Ten Little Indians. His writing, however, lacks her lightness of touch, perhaps deliberately.
K2 (according to himself) is a dashing and attractive police officer, who found fame for solving his previous very difficult case. On reading further you discover that this could not have been achieved without the help of a young lady named Patricia, who is consigned to a wheelchair as a result of something that happened in the first book (I'm going to have to read it to find out what). She is now his permanent (unpaid) assistant.
K2 has a very pompous and elderly style for a dashing young man. Is this the fault of the translation, or is the whole thing meant to be tongue in cheek?
The plot opens with the murder of a wealthy businessman at the monthly dinner party he gives for his family and close friends – always the same people.
In true Christie fashion, the body count begins to mount up, and it soon becomes apparent that the victim was actively hated by every single one of his guests.
You may think from what I have said up to now that I didn't like this book, but in fact the further I got into it the more I enjoyed it. The characters are all interesting, particularly the enigmatic Patricia. And it is satisfying that I came up with three quarters of the solution. I ended up feeling rather sorry for K2, who plainly demonstrates that his understanding of women is nil.