It’s my great pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet, translated by Don Bartlett. I’m really starting to love Nordic noir so didn’t hesitate when asked to take part in the tour, and a big thanks to Anne Cater and the publishers, No Exit Press, for inviting me and providing an advance copy for review.
The Official Book Blurb
TWO TIME WINNER OF NORWAY S BEST CRIME NOVEL
A FROZEN BODY.
A MURDERED BIKER.
A LAWYER WITH NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE.
In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death.
A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances.
Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe.
Does the frozen woman hold the key?
What I love about Nordic noir is the pacing of the novel While it has all the typical elements of an edge of the seat thriller – the intriguing mystery, the tension, the hard edged detectives, although in this case the harder of the two is the female detective, in itself a fairly unique situation – the pacing of them seems to be a lot slower. This reflects not only the setting but also the pace of life which occurs in places like Norway. Everything from the style of writing, the depths of the winters and their impact upon the inhabitants and the imagery as the author creates the setting, lend themselves to a very different experience if compared with an American or British thriller. Different, slower, but no less intriguing.
This was a story which had me engaged from the start. The body of a young woman found in the gardens of an infamous and disgraced former lawyer. His life now, far from the kinds of cases he used to defend, is simple and basic; the discovery of the woman a complication and an accusation he does not need. It falls to Detectives Vaage and Stribolt to uncover the truth behind her death and how, or indeed if, it relates to the death of a young biker outside of the city.
Every word used in this book felt like it had meaning, every sentence carefully chosen and placed, none of it wasted. There is a gradual unfolding of the plot, layers carefully building to inform and direct the pace of action rather than let it forge ahead. Each corner turned, each clue resolved breathes new life into the investigation. From attempted blackmail, to bike gangs, to drugs mules, there are so many elements to this story you would expect it to be hard to follow. And yet it isn’t. It is quite simple.
Each character added their own colour to the story too, from the casual kind of friendship which grew between the disgraced lawyer, Thygesen, and Detective Vaage, to the more reflective Detective Stribolt who is determined to solve the case, in spite of the passing of time and the political challenges and moral dilemma’s faced by the police. I love the way in which the story highlights the differences in laws between countries, investigations hampered by a reluctance of the powers that be to use the press in order to gain an identification for the young woman, privacy something that wouldn’t even be a consideration in other countries. Every voice is unique and with some of the characters, particularly biker Kykke, you can feel the weariness and even the suspicion bleed from the page.
This story is not a fast paced action thriller. Even though it heavily features motorcycle gangs, that would not fit the tone or the setting. What it is, is a story which is tragic and mysterious, which nips at the edges of social issues and which is capable ot stirring emotions, both empathy and outrage in the reader. A beautifully classy example of Nordic noir from a very accomplished writer.
The Frozen Woman is available to purchase now from the following retailers:
About the Author
Jon Michelet has been one of Norway’s leading authors through five decades. He made his debut in 1975 with the crime novel He Who Is Born to Be Hanged, Shall Never Be Drowned. He has since published numerous novels, plays and non-fiction books, and co-authored five bestselling reportage books from the Football World Cup with Dag Solstad. Michelet has also worked as a sailor, a docker, a journalist, publisher and newspaper editor. He is renowned in Norway for his strong commitment to a number of political and cultural causes.
Michelet has been awarded the Riverton Prize for Best Norwegian Crime Novel twice, for White as Snow and The Frozen Woman both part of his long running Vilhelm Thygesen series. He has also had phenomenal success with his epic series, A Hero of the Sea. Telling the story of the dramatic experiences of a Norwegian merchant navy sailor during WWII, the five novels published so far have been topping the charts since 2012, and have sold well over half a million copies, making Michelet a household name in Norway.
Image © Hans Fredrik Asbjørnsen courtesy of No Exit Press.