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Ordeal by Jorn Lier Horst
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3.5 Somehow or another I managed to blunder my way into the tenth is a series I have not previously read. Though I did read that in the USA only five have been translated and published. The author though did the reader a great service by including, in the opening pages of the book, a few pages of preview bringing us up to date on Wistings life. Greatly appreciated.

This is a meticulously, detailed police procedural. I was extremely impressed with the writing and the tightness of the plot. Will admit that the cases being investigated were not ones I am normally interested in, but found the way the cases were put together, as well as the doggedness and integrity of Wistings character, made up for it. My favorites parts included his grown daughter, very pregnant, and her newfound friend Sophie. Enjoyed the personal touches as Wistings tried to balance his responsibility to his daughter, with his work. So all in all an intriguing enough read for me to seek out additional books in this series.

ARC from Netgalley. ( )
  Beamis12 | Aug 14, 2017 |
I enjoyed this book. William Wisting is a good main character. In regards to his daughter and him working together, it was a little hard to gauge how well they do work together as Line was trying to help protect her friend by withholding details about the case. However, back to William. He seems like a nice guy. Plus, he is a good detective.

The story was fine and the characters were alright. What I mean by this is that I did not react or feel hyped when details of the case were revealed. Additionally, the characters were good about telling the story but they did not grab me and fully engage me. Yet, as I stated previously, I did enjoy this book. ( )
  Cherylk | Jul 30, 2017 |
Taking place a few months after THE CAVEMAN Jørn Lier Horst’s fifth William Wisting novel available in English was, for me at least, a return to the series’ top form. ORDEAL is a complicated but ultimately satisfying tale that juxtaposes a police investigation seeking nothing but the facts with one that is less concerned with truthfulness than closure at any price.

The police procedural is a crowded space in crime fiction these days but Horst is a real master of the art. He doesn’t simply jam his books full of the latest “in” thing but really shows how the disparate elements of an investigation – forensic evidence, witness statements, data analysis and all the rest – need to be brought together coherently in order for the truth to be revealed. When this book opens series hero, William Wisting, is being criticised because of his failure to solve the case of the disappearance of taxi driver Jens Hummel some six months earlier. But when new evidence appears that links Hummel’s disappearance with the high-profile murder of a young girl in a nearby jurisdiction it is Wisting who becomes a critic. The girl’s murderer was, supposedly, captured a mere 14 minutes after the crime was committed and the case is being used as an example of top policing. Accordingly, Wisting’s growing doubts cause him real professional trouble with his colleagues and superiors. I liked the way this novel explored the difficulties inherent in questioning or being critical of colleagues; a reality that is not unique to the profession of law enforcement.

As always with this series Wisting’s personal life, in particular his adult daughter Line, plays a significant part in the story. Here Line has moved back to Larvik because she is pregnant and the baby’s father, an American who has returned to the US, won’t be a strong presence in the baby’s life. She’s bought a house in the same street where her father lives (the house at the centre of THE CAVEMAN in fact) and at the start of the novel reconnects with an old school friend, Sophie. Although she’s on leave from her job as a journalist Line can’t give up her innate inquisitiveness and somewhat inadvertently brings Sophie’s family connection to local crime into play in the investigation her father is heading up.

Whereas I found THE CAVEMAN a bit didactic in its exploration of social themes I thought ORDEAL got the balance of storytelling against a backdrop of social change just right. Both books look at broadly the same issues – moral decay and relatively modern problems such as violent crime and drugs spreading their tentacles ever wider – but here there is more subtlety which I prefer.

If you are a fan of audio books I can thoroughly recommend Saul Reichlin’s narration of this series. Although he is South African not Norwegian the fact that he speaks English with a slight accent helps to remind the reader this is a story taking place somewhere more exotic than ’round the corner. And he is a terrific teller of stories, using only minor differences in tone, speed and pitch to differentiate between characters yet still making each ‘voice’ very distinct.

ORDEAL is a great read, or listen, for fans of top notch police procedurals with lots of twists, a thoughtful social backdrop and some heart-stopping moments of real suspense. Although I lament the fact that however Nordic it might be most Scandinavian crime fiction is a far cry from the noir that usually follows that particular N word, this novel’s ending does at least provide the bittersweet sensibility of a more traditional noir tale.
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 3, 2017 |
This is character-driven police procedural set in small-town Norway, along the lines of Wallander or Beck. It places realistic human characters at the core of a criminal investigation; the discovery of a dead body juxtaposed alongside everyday domestic concerns. A meticulously crafted criminal plot runs in parallel to the events in Chief Inspector William Wisting’s personal life. But Wisting is not the typical melancholic, self-destructive fictional detective, and this is not a book about the bleak extremes of the human soul. Which is why the title doesn’t quite suit it…

As the tenth book in the Wisting series, Ordeal comes with a fully developed cast and a useful ‘previously on…’ intro at the front. A relatively simple missing persons investigation in his district becomes much more complicated when it develops links to other police districts and parallel enquiries. The pleasingly detailed routines of Wisting’s investigation are shadowed by his rising concern that a miscarriage of justice is in process – and how he reacts to that troubling scenario, in the face of concerted opposition from his colleagues – becomes the main theme of a multi-faceted story.

Refreshingly free from implausible action sequences, Ordeal also doesn’t delve into particularly explicit sex or violence, nor does it aim for an atmosphere of high-tension. The plot is intriguing and intelligent, not driven by pulse-pounding suspense. It’s written in crisp, clear, no-nonsense language which eschews the bitter emotional chill and the stark significance of the landscape so often utilised by Nordic writers. Very matter of fact and understated.

In truth, I probably prefer a bit more grit and grime than Ordeal provides. But it’s an extremely well-constructed mystery with a knotty moral conundrum at its core, and it held my attention throughout. So while I’m not rushing off to read the other nine Wisting books, I’d be happy to pick up another on a quiet afternoon.
8/10

There's a more detailed version of this review, and stacks about other crime / thrillers at:
https://murdermayhemandmore.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/ordeal-substantial-scandi-crime/ ( )
  RowenaHoseason | Jun 22, 2016 |
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