The Caveman: Jan Lier Horst

Posted: May 16, 2016 in Book Awards, Norway, review

UntitledWhen analysing crime fiction I usually consider ten very simple factors. 

1] Is the plot exciting, believable and gripping?

2] Do I like and care about any of the characters?

3] Is it written in an easy to read style which is decipherable to an ordinary reader?

4] Does it have the correct atmosphere  for a crime novel?

5] Is it set in an interesting location?

6] Does it overdo or concentrate on violence against women and children?

7] Does it contain a social commentary or message in the narrative?

8] Is it original?

9] Do the detectives exhibit some humour or give a glimpse of human frailty?

10] Has the book been ballyhooed  and overhyped?

The Caveman comes out very positively when considered with these parameters. From the back cover:

For four months Viggo Hansen’s body has been sitting, undiscovered in front of his television, close to the home of Chief Inspector William Wisting. Has Norwegian society become so coarsened that no one cares? Line, Wisting’s journalist daughter wants to know.

Another body is discovered in the forest that also has been left for four months, and as Wisting and his team meticulously work on that case, Line conducts her own investigation into the sad lonely life of Viggo Hansen, and very gradually the reader begins to suspect a connection between the bodies. 

This is Nordic Noir of the highest quality, a real treat for lovers of accurate police procedural novels, with two great protagonists. The novel has a lot of systematic police and journalistic work with just enough personal details about the characters to keep it really interesting. The author Jorn Lier Horst was a policeman for eighteen years and this shows in the accuracy of his narrative. This is definitely a contender for the prestigious Petrona Award. 

‘How is it possible to be so lonely and forgotten that it takes four months before anyone makes the chance discovery that you are dead. I think it would be a good story to print over Christmas. W’ve just been hailed by the UN as the best country in the world to live in but, in research into citizens experience of happiness, Norway is in 112th place……..’  

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Very glad you enjoyed this, Norman. I like the William Wisting novels very much, myself.

  2. kathyd says:

    The Caveman won the Petrona Award.
    I haven’t read it, but hoped Kati Heikkapelto’s The Defenceless would win.
    I hope she gets the global recognition she deserves.

  3. icewineanne says:

    I’ve not read any by Horst. Must rectify that asap. Thanks for an interesting review.

  4. kathyd says:

    Read it after it won the Petrona Award. I liked it, but think Maxine would have liked The Defenceless better because it featured an interesting woman detective and independent woman.

  5. kathyd says:

    Well, what’s life if people don’t discuss and disagree? It would be boring.
    I love book discussions where readers have different opinions and hash them out. Sometimes it compels a reader to see more in a book or understand another’s point of view.
    The discussions about Lagercrantz’s Girl in a Spider’s Web were quite interesting in the blogosphere.

    Well, on my politics, I grew up in a family of Civil Rights, anti-war activists, labor union members and officers, and intellectuals, leading me at age 7 to object to air raid drills where we had to go under our desks in school. It also led me to read Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe as a teenager, led by the parent who loved mysteries, including John Dickson Carr. I think the view was that reading Holmes would teach me to think scientifically and logically, as well as enjoying them.

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