TWO TIME WINNER OF NORWAY S BEST CRIME NOVEL
A FROZEN BODY.
A MURDERED BIKER.
A LAWYER WITH NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE.
In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death.
A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances.
Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe.
Does the frozen woman hold the key?
'A Nordic crime masterpiece' - The Daily Walk
Many thanks to No Exit Press, Jon Michelet and Anne Cater for inviting me on to the blog tour for The Frozen Woman, and for my copy received in return for my honest review. As soon as I read the plot for The Frozen Woman I knew it was a book I wanted to read, I'm a huge fan of Nordic Noir so how could I resist a book written by a two time winner of Norway's best crime novel? Originally published in Norway in 2001, The Frozen Woman is a prescient thriller that foreshadows the ongoing issues surrounding immigration and people smuggling across Europe.
A frozen corpse is found in the garden of an ageing left-wing lawyer. Vilhelm Thygesen has a murky past, and the animosity between him and the police is mutual. He is the obvious suspect, particularly as his tenant, Vera Alam is away - allegedly overseas. However, it transpires that she is still alive and undergoing treatment for cancer so Stribolt and Vaage, the investigating officers from Kripos, are forced to concede he may be innocent and they must look elsewhere for a suspect. This proves difficult when they don't know who the woman was. As Vaage notes,
"Three to four hundred women from countries outside the Schengen Area are killed every year in Europe. Interpol never finds out who many of them are and hardly anyone is ever caught for these crimes."
Meanwhile a young biker has been killed after crashing his bike. It looks at first to be a tragic accident but soon becomes apparent that his death is rather more suspicious. He was a member of a biker gang, the Seven Samurais and seemed to know something about the murdered young woman, who has been named Picea after the Latin word for spruce. His death may be connected with his attempts to blackmail a hitherto scandal-free industrialist, Gerry Ryland. Just what does Ryland know about Picea?
At 253 pages this is a fairly short novel, yet because of the attention to detail it actually feels much longer, the action switches between the characters seemingly at random and for a while it's hard to see just how everything fits together. Jon Michelet never shies away from interrupting the plot for what at first seems a meaningless diversion - fungi disease in pine trees, potential corporate mergers and professional reputations, the deadly intentions and mistrust between the gang members of the Seven Samurai - but eventually it all makes sense. This rather fragmented unfolding of the story could have been frustrating but I found I loved reading something that really demanded my full attention. There's a dry humour to The Frozen Woman too, particularly in the exchanges between Stribolt and Vaage, colleagues who have a working relationship that is akin to that between siblings, spiky and competitive yet the teasing clearly an indication of their mutual respect and closeness. Thygesen is a fascinating catalyst to the plot, his past suggests he has a questionable relationship with the truth and with staying on the right side of the law, yet his wry exchanges with Vaage in particular show him to be undeniably charming, intelligent and erudite.
The Frozen Woman isn't a book I'd describe as a gripping thriller, instead this police procedural is a biting social commentary that shines a light on organised and gang crimes, the stigmatising of ethnic groups, the exploitation of some of society's most vulnerable and the difficulties in identifying the dispossessed. It may have originally been written almost twenty years ago but remains achingly current.
"And then there are all the children. They'll be gone, scattered like chaff before the wind, blown into ditches, swept into landfill dumps, brushed into the gutters of the Boulevarde de Stalingrad in Paris, disfigured in a backyard in Berlin, shot in a shed in Skopje."
This is a classy, thoughtful novel that deserved to be savoured. I loved it.
Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, dates are below.
The Frozen Woman is published in hardback today by No Exit Press.
About the Author
Jon Michelet has been one of Norway's leading authors through five decades. He made his debut in 1975 with the crime novel He Who Is Born to Be Hanged, Shall Never Be Drowned. He has since published numerous novels, plays and non-fiction books, and co-authored five bestselling reportage books from the Football World Cup with Dag Solstad. Michelet has also worked as a sailor, a docker, a journalist, publisher and newspaper editor. He is renowned in Norway for his strong commitment to a number of political and cultural causes.
Michelet has been awarded the Riverton Prize for Best Norwegian Crime Novel twice, for White as Snow and The Frozen Woman both part of his long running Vilhelm Thygesen series. He has also had phenomenal success with his epic series, A Hero of the Sea. Telling the story of the dramatic experiences of a Norwegian merchant navy sailor during WWII, the five novels published so far have been topping the charts since 2012, and have sold well over half a million copies, making Michelet a household name in Norway.