Veteran Chief Inspector William Wisting of the Larvik Police Department is faced with a pair of unusual cases: two men who were dead for four months before anyone so much as missed them.
The U.N. may consider Norway the best country in the world, but it’s still possible for some people to live and die in such lonely isolation that no one notices. One such person is Wisting’s neighbor Viggo Hansen, whose virtually mummified corpse is discovered sitting in front of his television only because he hasn’t paid his utility bill. Another is the anonymous victim found beneath the snow at a Christmas tree farm without a mark to indicate how he died four months earlier. Genre fans will immediately suspect that the two deaths are neither innocuous nor unconnected. But since Wisting focuses on trying to identify the snowbound corpse while his daughter, Line, an investigative journalist, toils in alternating chapters to recover a back story for the neighbor she never really knew, the two cases don’t begin to converge, or even to establish themselves as criminal cases, until they’re both linked to Robert Godwin, the Interstate Strangler who escaped the police in Minneapolis years ago and went to ground in Norway in a surprising, logical, and deeply disturbing fashion. Horst keeps the long second act in which Wisting works with an international task force while Line interviews one acquaintance of Viggo’s after another brimming with tension, slowly building suspense as the two searches cross paths in increasingly intricate ways; only the much briefer and more melodramatic third act, which inevitably makes the search personal for Wisting, is disappointingly predictable.
After a case in which he was very much the main story (The Hunting Dogs, 2014), it’s good to see Wisting cast once more as the dogged detective in this solid, unspectacular procedural.