FAITHLESS by Kjell Ola Dahl
Orenda Books; 4/15/17 (UK) & 9/1/17 (US)
CBTB Rating: 3.5/5
The Verdict: slow-burning, classic Nordic Noir
I read a lot of Nordic Noir, and I just never, ever tire of it. It’s above and beyond my favorite subgenre of crime fiction, and I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to try Scandinavian authors whose work I haven’t read before. In that spirit, I’m delighted to be participating in the blog tour for FAITHLESS by Kjell Ola Dahl today! Kjell Ola Dahl is considered one of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, and is best known for his Gunnarstranda and Frølich series - the series to which FAITHLESS belongs. This is the first Kjell Ola Dahl book I’ve read, and I wholly enjoyed my time spent in his world.
When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her—and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers—and the killer—before he strikes again. Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, atmospheric page-turner marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.
True to Nordic Noir, FAITHLESS is a slow-burning mystery that sets a police procedural against a dark, atmospheric backdrop. What differentiates this book from others is the occasional almost playful tone that the author injects into an otherwise dark storyline. Through Gunnarstranda and Frølich, Kjell Ola Dahl infuses FAITHLESS with a welcome dose of offbeat, quirky humor - it’s not overbearing in the story at all, it’s just brief moments of respite from an otherwise procedural-heavy and brooding story. These little moments of humor might come in the form of a sarcastic comment or wisecrack by one of the characters, and this kind of banter or sarcasm somehow made me feel that I was reading about real people, not just fictional characters.
While FAITHLESS might have a slower-paced plot, this is not to say that the book is without tension. It has plenty of taut, tense scenes interspersed with the more slow-burning investigative work that defines a police procedural. I loved how Kjell Ola Dahl uses alternate plotlines to contrast, for example, one man’s routine policework with another man’s life-or-death situation. Simultaneously, our two main characters often find themselves in completely opposite situations, with one man doing research in an office while another is literally on foot chasing down a killer. This plot structure really worked for me - when these moments came around, I was on the edge of my seat to see how the situation would resolve itself.
Last but certainly not least, the finale of FAITHLESS deserves a mention. Try as I might, and trust me, I really did try, I did not see this solution to the story’s central mystery coming. I was completely blindsided by this book’s conclusion in the best possible way - and more than that, I suddenly understood how many of the other seemingly disconnected puzzle pieces of this story fit together. The ending to FAITHLESS isn’t one of those “pulled out of left field” finales that feels almost random in its unpredictability. Instead, it’s one of those “how did I not notice the signs earlier” mystery solutions that always keeps me coming back for more.
FAITHLESS will appeal to readers of Jorn Lier Horst and Gunnar Staalesen - readers of classic Nordic Noir will feel right at home in this world. Though it’s technically part of a series, new readers will have no trouble jumping in with FAITHLESS. This book is intelligently crafted and infused with a truly unique personality. Combine its slow-burning police procedural with a truly edge-of-your-seat finale, and I wholly enjoyed my first Kjell Ola Dahl read.
Thank you to Orenda Books for allowing me to participate in this blog tour! I received a copy of FAITHLESS in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.
Book Details (US Edition)
Series: Oslo Detective Series
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Orenda Books (September 1, 2017)
Remember to check out the rest of the FAITHLESS blog tour!