This book is set two years after the fire which badly scarred Henning, and killed his young son Jonas. Henning has been contacted by prisoner Tore Pulli, a former enforcer, who has been sentenced to fourteen years for the murder of Joachim ‘Jocke’ Brolenius. Tore tells Henning that he is innocent and that if Henning can clear him before his appeal hearing he will give him information about who arranged the fire that killed Jonas. There are a number of strands to a complex plot scattered with lots and lots of Scandinavian names, some of whom disappear quite quickly, or only make a fleeting appearance in the narrative. Numerous steroid enhanced body builders and enforcers are questioned and interrogated during the story, and there are even references to a book by Roger Morris in his Porfiry Petrovich series, which is a clue to the perpetrator. The reader has to concentrate reading Pierced.
There are some compelling features in Thomas Enger’s Pierced. Firstly the character of Henning Juul and his struggle to come to terms with both the loss of a child to a violent death, and the fact his ex-wife Nora is in a relationship with his work colleague, Iver Gundersen. Secondly, the plot to threaten the family of TV2 cameraman Thorleif Brenden forcing him to commit a murder; the tense chapters as Thorleif attempts to evade the villains are the best part of the book. Thirdly, the detailed description of the everyday work of an internet journalist. But the writing style which I found rather irritating means that in my opinion the book is not a candidate for the 2013 CWA International Dagger.
Pierced is a very good 350 page book, the problem is that it is 538 pages long. The book has a very slow start and there are an incredible 119 chapters as the perspective is switched from one character to another, and the reader is left with cliffhanger after cliffhanger at the end of chapters. Perhaps my concentration and memory wasn’t up to the technique, and for me the choppiness spoilt the flow of the story. The book also ended with a somewhat unnecessary teasing hook for the next volume in the series. Pierced is a good read but could have been even better, the characters and basic plot are interesting enough that I don’t think it needed so many cliffhangers and so many chapters.
I will be reading number three not because of the hook, but because I want to see what happens to Henning Juul.