An elderly woman is found dead in a nursing home.Bjarne Brogeland, who heads up the investigation, soon realises that they are on the trail of a meticulous killer who has developed a keen taste for revenge. A killer who has only just begun. Trine Juul-Osmundsen, Norway’s Secretary of State and Henning Juul’s sister, is accused of sexually harassing a young male politician. As the allegations cause a media frenzy, Trine receives an anonymous threat telling her to resign. If she doesn’t, the truth about what she really did that night will be revealed. Scarred reporter Henning Juul, finds himself torn between the two high profile cases. He wants to help his estranged sister, but as he digs into their past, he discovers memories that haunt them both. Memories of a broken home. Memories of a dead father. As the two cases collide, both their worlds threaten to fall apart…
Okay so we’ve been Burned and Pierced so now prepare to be Scarred by the latest instalment in Thomas Enger’s superlative Henning Juul series. Focussing on our dogged, emotionally and physically damaged reporter, Juul, Enger has carved out an exceptional niche in the current Scandinavian crime fiction market. In this book in particular, there is more than a nod to the Borgen phenomena, as Juul’s estranged sister Trine, Norway’s Secretary of State becomes the focus of some unwelcome press attention…
I thoroughly enjoyed the way that this book in particular changed the direction of the series somewhat with the aforementioned development of Juul’s sister Trine in the overall plot. She is a complicated and layered character, as is Juul, and the tentative re-establishment of contact between the two in the wake of their previous estrangement, is handled with a deft touch and delicacy by Enger. Trine’s life is spiralling out of control with a malicious sex scandal story, in much the same way as Juul’s did in the wake of the events and his personal loss of the previous books, and Enger is pitch perfect in his depiction of the baying wolves of the press and her fellow politicians as her political career unravels. What unfolds is not only a brutally honest tale of political intrigue, but how the bonds of family can sometimes be an enormous burden and source of sadness to those involved, as events of the past sometimes refuse to rest in peace as Henning and Trine discover.
In a parallel story, regular police protagonist Inspector Bjarne Brogeland, is investigating a particularly brutal murder at an old people’s home of a curmudgeonly ex-schoolteacher. Having recently had an operation on my eye, I extend a note of thanks to Enger for highlighting the use of knitting pins and orbital crevices! Anyway, I digress, so, the collective intelligence of Brogeland, and by extension his professional relationship with Henning Juul forms the crux of this investigation, and there is normal bandiage and grudging professional respect between them once more in evidence. I enjoyed the way this plotline played out and the use of misdirection and red herrings that Enger employs. Set against the political storyline, there was a good balance throughout, and both plots were of equal interest and emotional intensity to hold my attention throughout.
I think it is a testament to the strength of Enger’s writing that all three of his books to date, have been incredibly enjoyable. He seems to combine the very best aspects of the current Scandinavian crime table in terms of characterisation and plot as well as his razor sharp eye on the social and political trends at work in Norway, thus providing an added layer of interest to his crime fiction. A great read, and I would urge you to try the whole series.
Thomas Enger is the author of two previous Henning Juul novels, most recently Pierced, which was described in Shotsmag as ‘excellent, another superbly compelling read by Thomas Enger’. As well as writing, he also composes music. He lives in Oslo and is currently at work on the fourth novel of the series. http://www.thomasenger.net/ Follow on Twitter @EngerThomas
(With thanks to Faber&Faber for the ARC)