The Owl Al­ways Hunts At Night BY SA­MUEL BJORK

BY SA­MUEL BJORK (DOU­BLE­DAY) OUT 20 April TRANS­LATED BY CHAR­LOTTE BARSLUND

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - By PHILIP KEMP

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.

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