DREGS

Written by Jorn Lier Horst

Review written by Calum MacLeod

Calum MacLeod is a reporter for the Inverness Courier and had been writing for SHOTS since its early days. In 2009 the Highland and Islands Media Awards' judging panel awarded him “Highly Commended Feature Writer of the Year”.


DREGS
Sandstone
RRP: £8.99
Released: 12th August 2011
Pbk

For a fairly law abiding part of the world, Scandinavia does seen to have an awful lot of detectives.

Nice knitwear (watch Iceland’s “Jar City” or Denmark’s “The Killing” for confirmation), but not a lot of laughs (see above and pretty much everyone writing on matters criminal from Reykjavik to Helsinki).

In what already seems a quite crowded market, small Highlands-based publisher Sandstone Press have found a Scandinavian author uniquely qualified to write about crime.

Already successful in his native Norway, Jorn Lier Horst is a serving chief inspector in Larvik, so we can expect his Inspector Wisting to automatically come with a degree of authenticity.

However closely patterned he is on a real life Norwegian policeman, however, he has the qualities we expect in the best of our fictional police and hope for in the real ones, a methodical, fair seeker after the facts:

“Wisting had never had problems with motivation. An internal engine drove his work forward. Not particularly concerned about praise, social status or the avoidance of criticism, seeking out answers was motivation enough. The pursuit of a solution drove him on, the search for justice, the feeling of righting a wrong, creating a balance, and in the end the satisfaction of achieving the goal. And of course, the more distant the goal seemed to be, the more motivated he became.”

Assuming others book in the series follow, and they certainly deserve to on this taster, Sandstone are starting backwards with the most recently published book in the series.

Severed feet start washing ashore on the Norwegian coast and though they wear similar trainers, they belong to different bodies and Wisting is faced with the unwelcome possibility that a serial killer is at work.

It would not be a Scandinavian crime novel without a social issue or two, and while Wisting investigates murder, his journalist daughter is interviewing murderers for an article about whether prison really is a deterrent. The crime also has links to Norway’s place on the frontline of the Cold War, giving an insight to the mindset of a nation so recently occupied by another hostile power.

Translator Anne Bruce deserves credit for adapting Horst’s dry Nordic prose into English, but the author himself is a worthy addition to this modern Viking invasion.

 

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