The Owl Always Hunts At Night BY SAMUEL BJORK
BY SAMUEL BJORK (DOUBLEDAY) OUT 20 April TRANSLATED BY CHARLOTTE BARSLUND
Like its predecessor I’m Travelling Alone, The Owl Always Hunts At Night features a pair of Oslo police detectives: Holger Munch (middleaged, tubby, dogged) and Mia Krüger (young, intuitive and unconventional). You might anticipate echoes of the teaming of Stieg Larsson’s Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Krüger in particular, with her tormented past and knack for playing hunches, is strongly reminiscent of Salander.
Bjork’s novel hits several more Scandi Noir buttons. His cops – of course – have dark personal issues and troubled private lives: Munch agonises over his broken marriage and Krüger is near- suicidal, while some of their colleagues struggle with drink problems. The killer, too, has a traumatic past; no common-orgarden murderer, he subjects his victims to bizarre rituals and gross humiliations, laced with unpleasant overtones of misogyny.
Loose ends and flashbacks abound, rather slowing down the action, and the plot too often relies on coincidence to carry total conviction. Even so, this is an engrossingly labyrinthine novel, with enough offbeat and downright bizarre detail to keep us intrigued and guessing right up to a tense finale. And the last page drops in an enigmatic episode that quite blatantly aims to whet our appetites for the third volume in the series.