Smoke Screen by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger (tr. by Megan Turney) #BookReview #BlogTour

 

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Smoke Screen today. Many thanks to Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, and to Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Smoke Screen is the second co-written thriller following the excellent Death Deserved by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger to feature experienced police officer, Alexander Blix and young blogger-turned-journalist Emma Ramm. It's not necessary to have read the first book in the series but I would highly recommend it, not least because it's a superb novel which was one of my favourite reads last year but also because there are mentions of the previous case which will resonate more with returning readers.
Ever since the traumatic events in Death Deserved, Emma has been convinced that a copycat bomber will strike on New Year's Eve and despite her fear there there will be another countdown explosion, she is compelled to attend the annual firework celebration in front of Oslo's City Hall. It's a particularly cruel coincidence that she is proven right to be scared and that she is on the scene to observe the devastating aftermath of the attack. Blix is also present as he is on duty that night and heroically pulls a severely injured woman from the water. As the revelry turns to screams and the casualties are identified, the impact for them both is more far-reaching than just trying to figure out who was responsible; Blix realises he knows the woman he rescued from the frigid harbour while Emma is wracked with guilt and turns to her work as the only coping mechanism she knows.
Blix and Ramm don't work together  - and indeed their occupations would more often see them as adversaries in many crime fiction novels - but their concurrent investigations and the increasing bond between them means their paths often cross. The narrative is shared between their perspectives as seamlessly as the writing is shared between the two authors and their separate discoveries gradually reveal the terrible truth behind the explosion.
Blix becomes convinced that the woman identified as Ruth-Kristine Smeplass wasn't just an unlucky victim of the bomber and that she may have been the target. Ten years ago, her infant daughter, Patricia was kidnapped but despite an intense hunt was never found. It's a case that has continued to haunt Blix who remains suspicious that Ruth-Kristine may have been involved in Patricia's disappearance. Meanwhile, Emma doggedly follows any leads she uncovers; she is always a determined, tenacious young woman but now this investigation has become personal to her  - although throwing herself into her work actually exacerbates her feelings of remorse at times.
With the focus on the main investigation being it was most likely an act of terrorism, Blix is taking a risk pursuing a different angle but his ties to the Patricia case mean it's impossible for him to dismiss the potential link. This is an emotive case for all involved, from Blix and Ramm themselves, to Blix's partner and daughter who are still clearly traumatised by events in Death Deserved and to those more directly involved in what led to the New Year's Eve attack. In the best tradition of Nordic Noir, there isn't ever going to be a truly happy ending here but nevertheless, the search for the truth behind the smoke screen of lies and subterfuge  is absolutely compelling. 
The complex plot allows each new revelation to slowly peel away the many layers, inexorably reeling in the reader as the tension builds towards the devastating, heart-stopping conclusion.  With an excellent translation by Megan Turney, the taut pacing and atmospheric sense of place is complemented throughout by the perceptive, intriguing characterisation which ensures Smoke Screen is confirmation that this addictive, exciting series is going to be one of my favourites. Very highly recommended.

Smoke Screen is published by Orenda Books, it is out now in ebook and will be available in paperback from 18th February 2021. Purchasing links can be found here but please support independent bookstores whenever possible, either by ordering directly or from bookshop.org.

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


About the Authors
Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.

Jørn Lier Horst's social media links:  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Website
Thomas Enger's social media links: Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Website

About the Translator
Megan Turney is originally from the West Midlands, and after having spent several years working back and forth between the UK and the Hardanger region of Norway, she is now based in Edinburgh, working as a commercial and literary translator and editor. She was the recipient of the National Centre for Writing’s 2019 Emerging Translator Mentorship in Norwegian, and is a published science fiction critic. She holds an MA(Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, as well as an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Manchester.

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