by Thomas Enger
Two years ago, crime reporter Henning Juul was seriously disfigured and injured when his apartment caught fire and burned. He survived. His six-year-old son Jonas didn’t.
Now, he’s returning to work at 123nyheter.no, an internet news outlet. The young interns he trained have become his new bosses. News value is measured in hits. Getting stories online at warp speed is everything.
Henning’s first assignment is the sensational murder of a promising young film student, Henriette Hagerup. Her body is found in a tent on Ekeberg Common half buried, stoned, flogged and with one hand severed. At a glance it appears to be an Islamic honor killing. Digital clues on her computer and phone reinforce that. Given that she had a Pakistani boyfriend, Mahmoud Marhoni, the case seems signed, sealed and delivered.
While Henning is interviewing Mahmoud’s brother and roommate Tariq, Tariq is shot. When the story of the murder breaks on 123News, it carries Henning’s byline and photo, putting him in the cross-hairs of Tariq’s murderers.
Even as the police grill Mahmoud, Henning wonders whether the two murders are even related. Watching students at a memorial for Henriette at her college, his attention is caught by Anette Skoppum. She was directing a film of a script that Henriette wrote. The tent had been put up on the common so the filming could be done the next day. The script is a mirror image of the murder scene.
This is a fast-paced story with Henning using classic reporter’s skills — investigating victims’ lives, asking questions and checking facts — to investigate the two murders.
As he does so, Henning’s carrying more baggage than a reporter’s notebook and ballpoint pen. His ex-wife is about to move in with one of his colleagues. His post-traumatic stress has left him with an obsessive need to check for fire alarms wherever he goes and change the batteries in his own fire alarm daily. His mother is a demanding alcoholic and his sister Trine Juul-Osmundsen, Norway’s minister for justice, won’t speak to him.
This is an interesting, twisted story. It’s not your usual police procedural. Henning’s backstory is built up gradually and with depth to entice you into reading the sequels:
- PIERCED (2012). A jailed extortionist sends Juul a message that he has information about what happened the day Juul’s son died. When the man ends up dead, an apparent suicide, Juul’s instinct to dig deeper is triggered.
- SCARRED. Juul finds himself torn between two high profile cases: a meticulous killer with a taste for revenge, and a blackmailer trying to get Juul’s estranged sister, Norway’s Secretary of State Trine Juul-Osmundsen, to resign.
- CURSED (2017). Juul finds himself and his ex-wife Nora involved in the search for a missing woman. The two soon find themselves enmeshed in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families — and painful truths surrounding the death of their own son.
- KILLED (2018). In his search for his son’s killer, Juul finds himself unable to trust anyone close to him. Nora is pregnant with another man’s child; his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son; and he finds himself under growing threat.
Juul delves into Oslo’s dark side exposing class and racial conflicts and dirty politics.
About the Author: Thomas Enger (1973 – )
Norwegian writer Thomas Enger is a journalist in addition to being a novelist and a composer.
BURNED, Enger’s debut novel, was written in 2011. In addition to the Henning Juul series, Enger has written two young adult novels, the fantasy thriller THE EVIL LEGACY and the suspense novel KILLER INSTINCT.
Born in Oslo, he grew up in Jessheim. He now lives in Oslo with his partner and two children.