CLOSED FOR WINTER: JORN LIER HORST trans ANNE BRUCE

Posted: December 14, 2013 in Book Awards, Norway, review, Scandinavia

Ove Bakkerud goes to close up his summer cottage at Stavern, 100km southwest of Oslo, for the winter. He discovers it has been broken  into51BvycWWroL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_ and ransacked. After reporting the break-in he notices a light in the cottage owned by Thomas Ronningen, a television personality. If Ronningen’s cottage has been burglarised as well the police will prioritise the matter. But when he arrives at Rottingen’s cottage he finds a dead body. William Wisting chief of police for the Department of Larvik the local town is in charge of the investigation, which is complicated once they find other cottages have been ransacked, discover another body, and Wisting’s daughter Line, an investigative journalist with an unsuitable boyfriend, decides to spend time in their summer cottage nearby.

Closed for Winter is the seventh book in the Wisting series, and the second to be translated into English after Dregs, which I haven’t read. This makes it somewhat difficult for me to fairly judge the book as the characters were strangers whom I had not got to know over previous books. But I am able to say it is a solid police procedural full of detailed investigative methods. 

By far the best part of the novel is when William Wisting and Martin Ahlberg travel to Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, to question the associates of one of the men found murdered near the location of the burglaries. This allows the author to point out facts that in another context might be considered politically incorrect. Do the Schengen agreements that allow free movement across international borders for citizens of member countries facilitate criminal activities?

It had surprised him to learn that there were no more than 3.6 million inhabitants, since Lithuanians comprised a disproportionately large proportion of the total number of foreigners in Norwegian crime statistics.

The picture painted of Lithuania is not a pretty one, with massive amounts of stolen goods being sold in open air markets that provide too much employment to be closed down by the police.

The contrasts in wealth were more noticeable after nightfall. Open prostitution and poverty existed side by side with rich men emerging from expensive cars in the company of long-legged blondes. 

This is a serious book and while it lacks humour it does not lack humanity, and a strange kind of morality. 

‘We have the same sun and same moon in Norway and Lithuania,’ she said. ‘We live on the same earth, but our world is split in two. We are poor. You are rich.’…………………………..

‘It’s better to steal from Norway, because it is a wealthy country, than a poor country where people don’t have so much.

Jorn Lier Horst’s latest book The Hunting Dogs won the prestigious Nordic Glass Key so I will definitely read his next book in this series. Closed for Winter is a good crime fiction novel with some interesting social commentary, but it is not at the Leif G.W. Persson, Jo Nesbo or Hakan Nesser level because the characters are a little bit dull.    

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Comments
  1. Norman – I’m glad that you found this to be a solid read. I hope you do get the chance to read Dregs; it really has solidly developed characters and you may find them more interesting. And I have to say that what I would really like to do is read this whole series from the beginning.

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