Two-year-old Patricia was kidnapped ten years ago and never seen again….
Or was she?
– Smoke Screen
[ About the Book ]
When the mother of a missing two-year-old girl is seriously injured in a suspected terrorist attack in Oslo, crime-fighting duo Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the case, and things aren’t adding up
Oslo, New Year’s Eve.
The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.
Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.
Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…
[ My Review ]
Smoke Screen is book 2 in the award-winning Blix & Ramm series from two of the biggest names in Nordic Noir, Thomas Enger & Jørn Lier Horst. Publishing in ebook format with Orenda Books December 18th (Original Paperback February 18th 2021) it is described as ‘a nerve-shredding thriller‘ and is a book that I just inhaled over a 24-hour period. I thoroughly enjoyed Death Deserved, Book 1, which I described as an ‘excellent launchpad for a new thrilling, compelling and completely addictive series‘ so I did have expectations starting Smoke Screen.
We return to Oslo on New Year’s Eve. Emma Ramm, online news journalist, is at a party and following a frightening experience in the past, makes a spontaneous decision to go to the midnight fireworks display on the quays in the city centre. With the advice from her therapist, she leaves the party alone with the intention of hopefully conquering her fears. But Emma’s worst nightmare comes to pass when an explosion rips through the waterfront, killing and injuring many who were unfortunately too close to the source. The immediate reaction is a terrorist attack and the city is put on high alert.
Police Officer Alexander Blix is on duty on New Year’s Eve. With no one to celebrate the evening with, he offers his services, expecting a quiet night, but when word gets out of the explosion, Blix is immediately on the scene. He valiantly attempts to save a woman who has suffered dreadful injuries and, who he discovers after, is thought to be the mother of a young child, Patricia Semplass, who went missing ten years previously.
Blix and Ramm have a past, one that will always connect them, leaving Blix as an almost father figure in Ramm’s life. His continued concern for her is evident throughout and, although she oft-times steps on his toes, he has a respect for her. Ramm is tenacious with, at times, scant regard for her own safety and Blix knows this. Connected again by their presence on the night of the explosion on New Year’s Eve, both dig beyond the obvious in their search for the truth.
Patricia Semplass disappearing all those years ago left a hole in Blix’s life. An unsolved crime where a two-year-old child just vanished into thin air frustrated Blix and he never really let it go. Now with Ruth-Kristine, Patricia’s mother, and an original suspect in the disappearance, back on his radar, Blix is unsettled. Something is just not adding up.
Although working very much independently of each other Blix and Ramm, cross paths many times, always one of them, one foot ahead of the other. With a limited sharing of information both, for very different reasons, need to find answers fast. Slowly the depravity of this case starts to reveal itself and the reader is taken on another exciting journey.
Smoke Screen is a different beast to Death Deserved. Both are thrillers, but this one feels a little more personal somehow, perhaps not as frenetic. There is plenty of tension but it’s not as malevolent. A sadness and a desperation hangs over many of the individual characters and one cannot but reflect on the impact of one ‘in-the-moment’ decision on so many people. The actions of all the players is due to a calamity or a traumatic event in their lives. How they choose to handle their path in life going forward had huge implications for many others.
Translated by Megan Turney, one would be very hard pressed to guess that Smoke Screen was originally written in Norwegian, with a dialogue that flows seamlessly throughout. Horst and Enger have written a compelling follow up to Death Deserved, with a host of characters that are all vividly portrayed, as are the locations and settings. The chapters are short adding a great sense of urgency to this very clever story that completely captured my attention from the tantalising prologue. I’m intrigued to see where these two gentlemen take Blix and Ramm next…..
[ About the Authors ]
Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the same prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jørn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.
Jørn Lier Horst has with his award-winning novels about William Wisting joined the elite of Nordic crime writers. Having worked as a head of investigations before becoming a full-time author, Horst brings a unique brand of suspense and realism to the table. Besides his novels for grown readers, Horst has gained recognition for his unparalleled ability to thrill even young readers with charming mysteries. His standing as the Norwegian king of crime fiction for all ages was cemented when he created the Detective Agency No. 2 and CLUE series, both the most popular children’s book series in their respective age categories.