‘‘Blix & Ramm are back in a breathless, emotive thriller by two of Norway’s finest crime writers…
When a police investigator is killed execution-style and Blix’s own daughter is targeted by the killer, he makes a dangerous decision, which could cost him everything.’
[ About the Book ]
When police investigator Sofia Kovic uncovers a startling connection between several Oslo murder cases, she attempts to contact her closest superior, Alexander Blix before involving anyone else in the department. But before Blix has time to return her call, Kovic is shot and killed in her own home – execution style. And in the apartment below, Blix’s daughter Iselin narrowly escapes becoming the killer’s next victim.
Four days later, Blix and online crime journalist Emma Ramm are locked inside an interrogation room, facing the National Criminal Investigation Service. Blix has shot and killed a man, and Ramm saw it all happen.
As Iselin’s life hangs in the balance, under-fire Blix no longer knows who he can trust … and he’s not even certain that he’s killed the right man…
[ My Review ]
Unhinged by Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger was published February 17th with Orenda books and is Number 3 in the Blix & Ramm series. Lier Horst and Enger are two well-renowned Nordic Noir writers. Lier Horst’s police procedurals are characterised as having a ‘brutal and chilling realism’ and Enger’s thrillers as ‘raw, emotional and character-driven.‘ Their union brings these two writing styles together creating a series of incredibly accomplished books that are described as ‘explosive, staggeringly complex and unbearably emotive…will take your breath away.’ With seamless translation by the amazing Megan Turney, Unhinged immerses the reader in a seriously thrilling Scandinavian read.
It is always a challenge to review a book like this as there is the potential of accidentally dropping a spoiler so I will tip toe my way around it and give it a shot. I first became acquainted with police officer Alexander Blix & news blogger Emma Ramm when I read Death Deserved in April 2020, a book that quite simply blew me away. This was exactly how I liked my crime fiction – ‘a smooth, taut and tangled tale that will get under your skin from the beginning. An excellent launchpad for a new thrilling, compelling and completely addictive series.’ In December 2020 I dived into Smoke Screen, book 2 in the series which I described as a more personal reading experience and not as frenetic, ‘a clever story that completely captured my attention’. As the series develops the relationship between Blix and Ramm constantly shifts but it is taken to whole new level with Unhinged.
Sofia Kovic is a colleague of Blix, an intrepid worker who leaves no stone uncovered in her search for the truth. When she makes an alarming discovery during an investigation she has no idea of the nest she has disturbed until she meets her executioner in her own home. Iselin, Blix’s daughter, rents a room from Kovic and happens to be upstairs at the time. A frenzied escape with some minor injuries leaves Iselin lucky but traumatised by the events of the day. As soon as Blix arrives on the scene he is justifiably concerned for Iselin’s continued safety as a witness to Kovic’s murder.
Four days later, Alexander Blix is sitting in an interrogation room at Kripos, Norway’s National Crime Investigation Service, while Emma Ramm is in another. Both are being questioned regarding the murder of a man. Both are on the wrong side of the table. Blix is under pressure and struggling to keep his focus during questioning. His thoughts are all over the place reaching back into the previous few days and the action he took. Was his judgement based on evidence or revenge?
Following on from his interrogation, Blix is faced with insurmountable challenges that could break a lesser person. Emma Ramm is in no-man’s land trying to come to terms with her decisions. In Unhinged Blix and Ramm took a path from which there is no return. The past cannot be changed and what happens next is truly shocking and devastating for both of them and also for the reader. With short, sharp chapters the pace of Unhinged never lets up, which left me reeling on more than one occasion. The dynamic of Blix and Ramm is painted with such authenticity. Their relationship goes back many years but now, it is potentially irreparably damaged. The mental anguish is raw. The anger is palpable. The fear of the unknown is evident as the story reaches its unsettling conclusion
Unhinged is an electrifying addition to this series. It can easily be read as a standalone but do yourself a favour and start from the beginning. A pulse-pounding, heart-breaking, emotional journey I actually was left with a serious book hangover after turning the final page. Unhinged is a book that left its mark. Reading a series from the beginning encourages attachments between the reader and the main protagonists. When their lives become unstable, when they feel pain, you have a sense of it too from the pure quality of the writing. Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger really are a dynamic pairing. Their ability to create such ‘real’ characters with authentic feelings and experiences adds to their excellence as a writing team.
Unhinged is another engrossing read in this very smart and tense series, one that consists of many layers and always surprises. Scintillating writing, fiery content, spirited personalities all combine and play with the emotions to provide the reader with a top-notch experience. More please Mr Lier Horst and Mr Enger!
[ Author & Translator Bios ]
Jørn Lier Horst (b. 1970) 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. Jørn writes the international, bestselling Blix & Ramm series with Thomas Enger, and lives in Norway.
Twitter ~ @LierHorst
Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of five books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series, which includes Cursed and Killed, 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, another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017, and formed the basis for his standalone thriller, Inborn, which was rewritten for the adult market in English, and shortlisted for the Petrona Award. Thomas also composes music, and he lives in a village outside of Oslo. He writes the international bestselling Blix & Ramm series with Jørn Lier Horst.
Twitter ~ @EngerThomas
Megan Turney is originally from the West Midlands, and after having spent several years working back and forth between the UK and the Hardanger region of Norway, she is now based in Edinburgh, working as a commercial and literary translator and editor. She was the recipient of the National Centre for Writing’s 2019 Emerging Translator Mentorship in Norwegian, and is a published science fiction critic. She holds an MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, as well as an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Manchester.