Written by Zoran Drvenkar — Here at Crime Fiction Lover we love the break-out popularity of European crime, whether it’s the stone cold thrillers of Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson, or the hit Danish TV series The Killing. What’s more, we know how popular it is with our readers, so when the chance came to review what is tipped to be the next big thing we couldn’t say no.
Sorry follows four friends in present day Berlin – brothers Kris and Wolf, and best friends Tamara and Frauke. Kris is the most decisive and nominally the group’s leader. He’s the one the others usually defer to. Younger brother Wolf still mourns the death of his girlfriend Erin from a heroin overdose two years prior. And Tamara looks up to her friend Frauke, wishing she could be more confident. She regrets giving up her daughter Jenni at birth and longs to see her again. Meanwhile Frauke has to look after her father, unable to sleep on his own because of the guilt of having his ill wife institutionalised.
What the group have in common is a sense of dissatisfaction with their lives. They find themselves in their late 20s and early 30s, rudderless and adrift. The dreams they had for themselves, personal and professional, have not come true and their youthful sense of invincibility has been replaced with a nagging anxiety that life may never amount to more than what they now have.
Having experienced what it feels like to lose his job, in a flash of drunken inspiration Kris decides the four will form an agency to apologise on behalf of others, and Sorry is born. The guilty client will be absolved and won’t have to face those they’ve wronged, and their victims receive compensation and the chance to move on with their lives. Kris and Wolf do the apologising while Tamara and Frauke liaise with clients and run the business. Sorry proves surprisingly popular and soon they are having to turn away work.
Nothing this good can last, and things take a turn for the worst when Wolf visits a woman at her flat, expecting to complete a routine job. What he finds instead is a murder victim, crucified on the wall with nails through her hands and forehead, and an industrial photo mural behind her. The group contact their client only to be told that if they don’t complete his apology then dispose of the body, they and their families will be murdered too.
Reluctantly, the four complete their commission. With the threat of being found complicit in covering up a murder or, even worse, having to complete another job for the killer, it’s not long before they turn on one another. What started out as an attempt to regain what was missing from their lives ends up a battle of wits against a disturbed killer.
The whole plot is rather more complicated, and the author keeps the reader in the dark about the killer’s identity until towards the end. This does make the beginning a little confusing, but stick with it and you will be amply rewarded because the unique and clever plot is not the only good thing about this book. The author is equally at home providing depth to his characters as well as the kind of thrills a book of this kind needs.
A word of warning, though. Sorry becomes very dark in places, particularly where the origin of the murderer is explored, even more so because of the quality of the writing. Just last month we ran the rule over Jo Nesbo’s latest book Phantom. He’s an author who has blended great writing with dark crimes and found both popular and critical acclaim. Well, he has some competition now.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars