Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on The Last Fix by Kjell Ola Dahl, the next book in the Oslo Detectives series. I really am loving playing catch up with this series ahead of the new book release, The assistant, later this year. Frank Frølich is definitely one of my favourite characters now. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Katrine Bratterud is on the verge of finishing a spell in drug rehab. One evening celebrating her success at the shore of a lake she senses that she is not alone. In the dim early morning light she sees a naked man approaching from out of the woods… The discovery of Katrine’s corpse the following day brings police officers Gunnarstranda and Frolich onto the case and into a world of secrets and lies that stretches back generations.
Katrine’s past as a prostitute makes her easy prey to a series of men, who immediately become suspects – and victims. In a world of secrets can the Oslo Detectives find out the truth about these grisly murders in time before the killer strikes again…?
The Last Fix takes readers through the past of murder victim Katrine Bratterud in a bid to uncover who should wish to kill her and why. She is a woman with a chequered past, a history of prostitution and substance abuse, but to all appearances she had turned her life around and was making a fresh start so who could possibly want to kill her?
The story is split into clear parts – the hours leading up to her murder, where we meet a variety of characters who are soon to become suspects too, and the days afterward in which Frølich and Gunnarstranda attempt to uncover the motive for and, ultimately, the perpetrator of her murder. We are very much with Katrine right up to the point of her murder and I will admit that , to that point, I was uncertain as to how much affinity I had towards her as a character. She clearly had some kind of difficult past, the scenes in the travel agency that she worked at indicative of the fact she had something to hide. She also had a very changeable nature when it came to the men in her life, from indifference towards her boyfriend, to almost fear of another guest at a part she attended, through to a clear affection for a third man who comes to her aid just before she is ultimately killed. But the more I read, the further we moved into the investigation, the more I felt for her and understood how she came to be in the position she was. It also gave me more respect for the way she had tried to better herself and the life she was trying to carve when someone finally took her options away from her. In the end she was a very sympathetic victim and Kjell Ola Dahl did an excellent job of establishing this over. the course of the novel.
There are a number of different threads to this story, different paths down which the two Detectives travel in order to find out what really happened. There are a number of red herrings thrown their way, clues left which muddy the water and force them to change the focus of their investigation. As is typical with this series, we are present for all of the interviews, allowing us to start to build our own picture of what happened, but also allowing us to build on the knowledge we have of the victims final hours, something which is not yet available to the Detectives, By gathering what the suspects reveal, and what they omit, I started to form opinions on guilt or innocence, whilst still. be kept in the dark over some of the most vital clues in the story.
In many ways this book is a story of family and the various familial links between characters play a very large part in what comes to pass, both in the past and the present. I love that the author has slowly built that picture from the ground up, retaining the tension and also building my understanding of the two Detectives and what drives them. With each book, a little more is revealed and the more I understand, the more I like them. There is a sadness in Gunnarstranda which manifests itself in the way he approaches the case, and a kind of transient spirit in Frølich, unable to settle, which does likewise. But they are both determined to do right by the victim and I am happy to go on this journey with them.
I don’t know quite what it was about this book, perhaps the victim and the gradual unravelling of her past, but I found myself flying through this book in spite of the fact that the pace of the. narrative is not that intense. Just something drew me into Katrine’s world and I wanted to know more about her. The more I did, the more anxious I was that the Detectives uncovered her killer, because this book, more than a number of the others, really engaged me emotionally. Katrine’s was not the only murder in the book, but it was the one that resonated the most. I think that ultimate sympathy for her as a victim left me requiring justice, the ultimate tragedy of her fate after coming so far. The author did a commendable job of infusing the story with a kind of emotion and gave us and ending which left me completely satisfied.
About the Author
Kjell Ola Dahl was born in the city Gjovik, in Norway in 1958, but grew up in Oslo. Dahl was a teacher and social adviser in High school when he started to write the Oslo Detectives series. Two times Dahl has won the Riverton-prize, the Norwegian National prize for the best novel of crime fiction (in 2000 and in 2015). He won the prestigious Brage-prize for the Courier, a standalone novel of crime fiction set in Norway and Sweden during World War II and in 1967. The first book in the series of the Oslo Detectives – Lethal investments – was published in in Norway 1993.