The latest in the endless series of claimants to Stieg Larsson’s throne brings a suitably damaged investigative journalist a new case.
Two years after someone set fire to his home, killing his young son, memorably scarring his own face and torpedoing his marriage to fellow reporter Nora Klemetsen, Henning Juul is finally ready to return to his job at 123news. Or maybe not quite ready, since Heidi Kjus, one of the dozens of interns he trained, is now his boss, and Iver Gundersen, the newly poached reporter he’s been paired with is Nora’s boyfriend. Henriette Hagerup, the victim whose murder 123news, along with everyone else in Norway, is investigating, was stoned to death, her hand chopped off. Henning’s despised former schoolmate, DI Bjarne Brogeland of the Oslo police, assumes it’s an honor killing and goes after Henriette’s lover, cabdriver Mahmoud Marhoni, who obligingly answers his knock on the door by setting fire to his computer and leaping out his apartment window. But Henning, aided by a mysterious cyber-informant he knows only as "6tiermes7," sees more deeply into the case. He learns Henriette had been jolted into submission by a stun gun before someone cast the first stone. He learns that under the supervision of Yngve Foldvik, of the Westerdals School of Communication, Henriette had been working with her friend Anette Skoppum on a film to be called A Sharia Caste. And once he reads Henriette’s screenplay, he sees a new dimension of the case the police have no inkling of. But witnessing a second murder and realizing the murderer has seen him too leave Henning in no shape to do his best work.
Though it hits as many hot buttons as a Cosmopolitan quiz, Enger’s debut mystery is tangled, lumpy and forgettable. The keeper here is Henning, whom the fadeout launches toward a sequel.