SECOND OPINION: The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

Review published on July 8, 2017.

This is another Norwegian crime novel from prize-winning author Jon Michelet. I could not imagine anyone who had not spent a long time in Scandinavia being able to capture the character and ambience of life there in such an accurate and sympathetic way. The contrast between the quantity and depth of resources available to deal with serious crime in this novel is marked in relation to crime novels set in the USA. Yet the success of the investigations is no less assured.

The local police and their national partners, Kripos, manage their investigation into the murders, arson, drug dealing and other major crimes forming the backbone of this tale with a few key personnel. I felt a deep sense of understanding of the way they carried out their investigations in a way which initially felt a little amateurish. However, that feeling was soon dispelled as the series of crimes escalated.

The tale starts with the discovery of a dead woman in a frozen pond within the gardens of Vilhelm Thygesen. She had been stabbed to death before being put in the pond. Initial suspicion is directed towards Thygesen because of his unsavoury background. He is a left-wing lawyer who has represented criminally inclined members of a local biker group. As a consequence his relationship with the police is mutually adversarial.

Whilst the investigations into the murder are in their early phase we read about a young biker gang member being killed in a road traffic accident. It soon transpires that this death is suspicious. The police now start to try and establish potential connections between these two events. The biker gangs and their expansive criminal plans are the subject of the evolving narrative.

The members of the gang are seriously violent with each other but have minimal impact on their law abiding neighbours. One exception is when one is involved in arson when he is trying to destroy evidence of a murder. Unfortunately, when the fire flares out of control, a neighbour is killed. They do manage to reduce their numbers through their violent acts such that there are very few left at the end to be arrested. Part of the fun is trying to spot who will survive and how they manage it.

I found the reading of this book to be easy and entertaining. It deals with some pretty horrific criminal activities but they are described in such a way that they allow you to view them as a dispassionate observer. I enjoyed Michelet’s writing style and his ability to show his views of Norwegian life in a clear, sympathetic and sensitive fashion. It is easy to see why he is one of Norway’s foremost authors.

We are seeing more and more Scandinavian noir books. Michelet’s languid writing style helps to make this one of the better members of this genre and I would highly recommend it.

David Keay 5/5

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet
No Exit Press 9781843442929 hbk Sep 2017

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