Written by Jorn Lier Horst — The Norwegian detective William Wisting is an upright, honest, and morally unambiguous good cop with an impeccable career seeking truth and justice. So it comes as a backhanded slap when his own department is accused of corruption, and worse, of planting evidence. The news comes from his daughter, Line. She’s an investigative reporter who is just as dogged in her search for the truth as her father, except that she breaks some of the rules along the way.
Line learns from her editor that Rudolf Haglund, the perpetrator of one of the most heinous crimes in recent memory, has been released after 20 years, but not before letting to a bombshell: he was set up. The police, headed by her father William Wisting, were in on it. The situation is made more serious by the fact that Haglund’s lawyer is an infamously skilled and highly place solicitor with ties to the Ministry of Justice. Suddenly Wisting’s whole department is threatened, up and down the chain of command.
The news of the released killer is also a grim reminder of the abduction and murder of young victim Cecilia Linde. Her murder 20 years ago followed upon another unsolved case – the disappearance of Ellen Robekk. She was the niece of Wisting’s colleague on the force, Frank Robekk, who was all but destroyed by the two crimes. Haglund’s release digs away at these painful memories.
Wisting takes the news that his face will fill tomorrow’s front page with his trademark calm demeanor. He uses his energy to discover who in his team may have planted evidence, even though he remains convinced they got the right man. However, doubts do grow that maybe they worked the evidence to get their man instead of the other way around. As he carefully retreads the whole case from the beginning, he learns from a psychological expert that Haglund is an incurable psychopath and will certainly strike again at the next opportunity.
Meanwhile, Line has inside information on the identity of a murder victim whose brutalised corpse is discovered that morning. Using her unique gumshoe talents, she identifies the victim as Jonas Ravneberg, and even locates his residence. Arriving at his house, she blunders into a break-in and is attacked by the burglar, who may just be the murderer cleaning up evidence. She hopes the story is sensational enough to push out her father off the front page, or at least below the fold. So it’s a race to deadline as she only has a few hours to get copy to her editor.
As the police misconduct inquiry progresses, Wisting is asked to hand in his badge. But just as he is relieved of duty, a young girl called Linnea Kaupang goes missing. Could it be Haglund’s doing? Line learns more about Ravneberg and confers with her father, who is officially off all the cases but is anxious to get to the bottom of things. Looking at the old evidence they realise there may be connections between Ravneberg and Haglund and that all the crimes may be related, including the missing Linnea, who might still be alive. What’s more, Haglund sends a message that he wants a meeting, in which he will help Wisting clear his name.
Horst orchestrates a complex web of procedural detail, suspenseful criss-crossing both police and journalistic investigations, mixing in the bureaucratic PR pivoting with aplomb. More importantly, he writes solid characters that shepherd us through a riveting narrative. A father-daughter relationship of love and support that is both natural and compelling is well portrayed.
Stylistically, the author resembles his own stoic protagonist. He’s the strong silent type. His judicious use of subtle metaphor rather than lengthy exposition underlines significant moments in the story. The toss of a football, the sound of a foghorn, or a constellation of stars. But it is the final gesture which closes the latest William Wisting mystery that scores a grand slam and will leave you pumped up and raring for more.
It may come as a surprise that this is only the third William Wisting novel to appear in English, but what is not surprising is that The Hunting Dogs won the coveted Glass Key Award for the best Scandinavian crime fiction in 2013. For readers already hooked, the translation of the Wisting series can’t happen fast enough.
Read our interview with Jorn Lier Horst here.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars