Inborn by Thomas Enger (tr. Kari Dickson) #BookReview #BlogTour

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock ... for murder? Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously ... and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect? It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust. But can we trust him? A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?

I'm honoured to be hosting the blog tour for Inborn today. My heartfelt thanks to Thomas Enger, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

Killed, the final novel in Thomas Enger's outstanding Henning Juul series was one of my favourite books of 2018 and it's fair to say that Inborn was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. I can also confidently state that I expect to see it appear on a number of lists when it comes to the best books of 2019 posts - it will most definitely be on mine.
The opening night of Fredheim High School's annual theatre show was a triumph but it isn't until the following day when it's discovered that it ended in murder. Police Chief Inspector Yngeve Mork is called in to investigate and in this small village where everybody knows one another, the rumours and accusations soon point the finger of suspicion firmly towards young Even Tollefsen. Inborn switches between the past and present with Even as the conduit as he gives evidence in the dock which then seamlessly leads into the events he is describing being seen in real time from his perspective. Interspersed throughout Even's story are scenes featuring Yngeve's investigation as he gradually tries to discover what really happened while still coming to terms with the recent loss of his wife - a poignant contrast to Even's own sense of grief.
It's perhaps not surprising that most people in Fredheim have their own secrets or burdens to bear and one of the many highlights of Inborn is how I became so engrossed by their stories; as always Thomas Enger has created believable, three-dimensional characters whose lives I was interested in - not just as potential suspects but also in trying to understand their motivations and what leads them to behave as they do. The truth as to the identity of the killer is intriguing but just as compelling, for me was reading about the complex, intertwined lives of the people in this small town. Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay the author is that even at their worst, I cared about every character in this book.
Fredheim is a town in mourning but it's also in shock and inevitably in these times, people take to social media to share first their grief before anger and accusations follow. Even's sense of disbelief when he realises his peers suspect him is almost palpable and he can't follow the oft-given advice to never read the comments when his notifications become the constant on-screen reminder of the stares and whispers he is experiencing in real life too. Even is a likeable young man but as the book progresses, his innocence becomes more questionable - as indeed is true for many other residents of the town. The slow unpeeling of the layers, with Even's testimony providing little hints as to how events are going to unfold mean there is scarcely a character here who doesn't become a possible suspect as the storyline effortlessly twists its way to the truth, Towards the end, there is a notable escalation in tension and as the characters reach crisis point, it's absolutely riveting to learn not only what brought them to this moment but also what compels them to make their choices.
Inborn is an engaging, intelligent literary thriller but it's so much more than that; it's also a moving, intricate and introspective character study of a small town in turmoil. There's almost a cinematic sense to Inborn with Even's account in the dock providing a window to peer through to create an intimate, truly immersive reading experience  There are certain authors whose writing resonates with me, Thomas Enger is one of them and Inborn is everything I love about his books - I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Inborn is published by Orenda Books, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the same prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jørn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo. 
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About the Translator

Kari Dickson read Scandinavian Studies at UCL and then went on to work in various theatres. While working in the theatre, she was asked to do literal translations of two Ibsen plays, which fuelled her interest and led to an MA in Translation at the University of Surrey.  Having worked initially as a commercial translator, she now concentrates on literary translation, a good deal of which is crime fiction. Her translation of Roslund & Hellström’s Three Seconds won the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) International Dagger in 2011. She is also an occasional tutor in Norwegian language and literature, and translation at the University of Edinburgh.


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