Seasoned Norwegian cop Sigrid Ødegård travels to upstate New York to find her missing older brother, Marcus, a troubled soul suspected of pushing his African-American girlfriend, Lydia Jones, to her death.
Sigrid teams up with Sheriff Irving Wylie, a folksy, quit-witted good guy with hip musical tastes to go with his master's in divinity, who's been looking for Marcus in relation to Lydia's death. Having recently shot to death a hostage-taker back in Norway, where such acts are rare, she is quickly indoctrinated to American gun culture—and heated racial politics—by a white cop's fatal shooting of Lydia's 12-year-old nephew. The boy was playing with a cap gun. An analytical type in whom Irving sees a "neo-Zen-pragmatism" (there's also a touch of Fargo's Marge Gunderson in her), Sigrid surprises with action moves seemingly learned from the American cop shows streaming back home. To prevent SWAT vehicles from following her to her brother, who she's sure is innocent of any crime, she treats them to a hail of Molotov cocktails. Miller, an American living in Oslo, can get didactic at times, but he more than makes up for that with his lively discussions of the sometimes-odd differences between American and Scandinavian cultures and his ability to blend lighthearted exchanges and dark drama. The bantering between cops is lifted by sure comedic timing. "It's hard to ignore the moose sitting on your waffle," says Sigrid. "What?" says Irving. "That might not translate," Sigrid says.
Like his acclaimed debut, Norwegian by Night (2013), Miller's highly enjoyable new book is a solid mystery wrapped up in musings about individuality and freedom, grief and sadness.