Author: Kjell Ola Dahl
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback 276 pages
Release Date: 21 March 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Firstly I would like to thank Anne Cater and Karen at Orenda Books for inviting me to join in this Blog Tour and for the copy of this book provided to me for review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…
This story is told through interchangeable timelines predominantly switching back and forth from the events of 1942 and 1967. During 1942 we follow Ester and Gerhard during wartime Oslo and as the chapters unfold we see just how deep Ester became in the resistance. In 1967 Gerhard reappears after being presumed dead but what has he come back for? Revenge? To reunite with his daughter? His motives are unclear.
I usually love books set in the 1940’s, it’s one of my favourite periods of history to read and I also love anything involving espionage and intrigue so I think I had set myself up with really high expectations for this book. I’m not sure if that was my downfall with this read because I didn’t find myself loving it as much as I thought I would. Now don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy this book, I read to the end and I still throughly enjoyed the story that was being told, but there were moments where I found myself drifting and not fully invested with what was going on.
For me I think the disconnect was the fact that this is what I would call a slow burner of a read. Whilst it doesn’t pack the explosive action or tension that some books have I also didn’t connect with any underlying tension. However, there were moments where I was genuinely gripped and my enthusiasm for the story was reignited, but then there were moments where I found myself just reading trying to get to the next gripping moment.
Having said all of the above, I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book as I think the author’s style and pacing will work really well for a lot of readers. I really enjoyed the interchangeable timelines, the plot was very well thought out and the author has come up with some really interesting characters for this book.
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.
For more reviews and updates you can follow me on Twitter @BooksBucks