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Cursed (Henning Juul) by Thomas Enger

Cursed (Henning Juul)

by Thomas Enger

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This gritty Norwegian thriller centers on crime reporter Henning Juul, and is the fourth in the series. When I first read it, I had not read the three earlier novels, and gave it only three stars. At that time I said "I wish I had read it after reading the other books in the series, since there is a big back story that influences the action of this novel. On a stand-alone basis, it was enjoyable enough to keep me reading: fast paced, full of action, and featuring convincing characters. Shall now go back to the beginning of the series"

Now that I have read the first three novels in the series, I am upgrading my evaluation to four stars from three. There is indeed a big back story, and knowing what it is makes Cursed a much better novel. The tension is hard to beat, and the characters engaging in a dark, Nordic way. Waiting for Number Five! ( )
  annbury | Jun 12, 2017 |
Cursed – A Tense Layered Thriller

Cursed, by Thomas Enger, is a tense layered thriller that will keep you gripped from beginning to end wanting more. Yet another brilliantly translated thriller from the exciting publisher Orenda Books who seem to be picking up some of the best Nordic Noir available at the moment.

This like many Nordic Noir thrillers is like a firework, it is a slow burner to begin with before exploding at the end that will leave you breathless. Even though there may have been others printed in the series in Enger’s original language, but it certainly works as a standalone thriller in English, that is atmospheric and touches on the stories some families in countries that had been occupied during World War Two, would rather be left in the dark.

Nora and Henning were once a couple, even happy, but events had changed that, and life has moved on, or has it? Both are still investigative journalists, both like asking the questions people would do anything to avoid answering, but would it ever go as far as murder?

Henning has taken time off to investigate who set the fire that killed his son, left him scarred and broke up his relationship with Nora. Meanwhile Nora has been asked to investigate the disappearance of her former college friend Hedda Hellberg, who had set off Italy but never returned, when investigated she had not even entered the airport, but gone missing from there.

While they are moving forward with their own investigations and moving well outside their normal boundaries they do not realise they could be possibly putting their own lives in danger. Not realising that they may even be moving in similar circles, especially when their different investigations takes them outside of Oslo and takes them places on the coast where they are strangers.

What seem likes two different stories start coming together and the atmospheric darkness works well in this thriller. At times, it seems like you are being taken to a dark place and then being pulled back again, but while at times it seems like a slow burn there is certainly a bang at the end. This really is an exciting thriller that stands up well for the Nordic Noir genre. Like all great thrillers it is based on the one thing we families like to do and that is keep are secrets to ourselves, but things never quite workout like that. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | Mar 6, 2017 |
This is book #4 in a series featuring crime reporter Henning Juul & if you’re jumping in here, no worries. Plenty of back story is provided. Just to recap: two years ago, the biggest problem Henning & wife Nora Klemetsen had was trying to juggle their busy schedules while raising son Jonas. Then the unthinkable happened. Late one night as they slept, an arsonist came calling. Jonas did not survive.

Present day finds the couple divorced & living separate lives. But Henning can’t forget. He decides it’s time to find those responsible for setting the fire & takes a leave of absence. He believes it’s connected to a story he was working on at the time & begins by reconnecting with some unsavoury characters who were part of his original investigation.

Nora has tried to move on. She still works as an investigative journalist but struggles to put one foot in front of the other, despite beginning a new relationship. She’s approached by the husband of her old school pal Hedda Hellberg who has disappeared. He wants her to write a story in the hope it will generate some tips but as soon as Nora starts digging, it becomes clear Hedda was keeping secrets from her spouse.

Nora’s biggest challenge is breaching the united front presented by Hedda’s strangely uncooperative family. They’re a wealthy bunch used to all the privacy & deference money can buy & the last thing they want is some reporter asking sticky questions. In Henning’s case, some of the potential sources have died & those that remain tend to speak with their fists.

It’s a fast paced, engaging read as we follow each investigation in alternate chapters. Both are full of intricate twists & feature powerful people with more money than morals when it comes to keeping their secrets under wraps. There is no shortage of suspects but it’s hard to pick up a cold trail when few are willing to talk.

It ticks all the boxes in terms of action & intrigue but never at the expense of the characters. The author has chosen to make them the heart & soul of the story & I really enjoyed watching the subtle changes in Henning & Nora as they face increasing risks. He’s spent the last 2 years consumed by guilt & needs to know who killed his son if he’s ever going to find a little peace. Nora, too, has been going through the motions but the search for Hedda seems to light a spark that helps her remember who she used to be.

A literal race to the finish provides most of the answers & helps Henning & Nora come to terms with their shared past. But….Mr. Enger, if I can have a word with you regarding the last page….WHAT?!

All I can say is book #5 better be coming out PDQ. ( )
  RowingRabbit | Mar 4, 2017 |
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When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife's life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what's more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests.… (more)

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