SECOND OPINION: Cursed by Thomas Enger

Review published on March 9, 2017.

This is the fourth in a series of novels penned by this author (the others being Burned, Pierced and Scarred, respectively) and it features recurring characters from the series, not least the two protagonists, Henning Juul and his ex-wife Nora. Obviously, the concern with a series is whether one can enjoy it as a newbie. I came to Cursed having not read any of Enger’s previous work and while there is backstory that I feel I would have benefitted from, enough is explained in this novel when needed for it not to have spoilt my enjoyment.

Henning and Nora are both journalists. In Cursed, they both end up working on the same story: the disappearance of Hedda Hellberg, a woman from one of Sweden’s wealthiest families. Hedda booked a few weeks at an Italian retreat but never arrived. What’s more, the retreat has no record of her ever booking. The last that was seen of Hedda was when her husband dropped her off at the airport. The husband asks Nora for help as she and Hedda were college roommates. This Nora does, but the case soon becomes murky as it appears that Hedda is somehow connected to the death of an old man gunned down in the forest.

Henning, meanwhile, is pursuing those he believes are responsible for the death of his son (he and Nora broke up after an arson attack the their home that killed him), which leads him to immerse himself in Sweden’s organised crime syndicates. His case leads him to Nora’s, as the two prove to be intertwined.

One of the strong points of this novel is Henning and Nora’s relationship. Both are wracked with grief following the death of their son, an event which understandably rent their relationship in two. They still care for each other deeply, perhaps still love each other, but tragedy has left a chasm between them.

The plot is handled adroitly, though the backstory of the threats to Henning’s life, the different organised crime figures he’s investigated in previous books, people who were sent to prison, those who died, and those who might have had reason to target him in the fatal arson attack on his home, did get a little confusing at times.

That said, Cursed is a gripping novel with strong characters and, if anything, this complex backstory, rather than putting me off, has led to me buying Enger’s previous books.

James Pierson 4/4

Cursed by Thomas Enger
Orenda 9781910633649 pbk Feb 2017

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