Sunday 31 March 2019

The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl @ko_dahl BLOG TOUR @OrendaBooks #NordicNoir Translated by Don Bartlett

In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

Written with Dahl's trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in an exceptional, shocking thriller.

The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 21 March 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. I'm delighted to close the Blog Tour today.
The Courier is translated by Don Bartlett.

Historical fiction has never been my first choice of genre, and a historical spy thriller would usually send me running for the hills. However, this is written by Kjell Ola Dahl, and published by Orenda Books; two great reasons for reading. Dahl's writing is so precise and engaging and Orenda Books publish some of the finest genre fiction there is, so I had to give it a go.

The Courier is also set in Norway; a country that fascinates me and a place that I've longed to visit for many years. I now have my first trip to Norway booked for September 2020 and I am currently consuming every fiction title I can find that is set there. 

The Courier begins in August 2015, in Oslo as Turid comes across an article in a newspaper. She is shocked and dismayed to see a photograph of a bracelet that is included in a Norwegian auction. She recognises that bracelet. It was hers. It was stolen from her almost fifty years ago. 

The author then takes the reader back to October 1942. We met Ester, a jewish courier who risks her life to work with the resistance, delivering newspapers. She is betrayed, and has to flee her country, leaving her family behind her.

Ola Dahl also sets some of his story post-war, in 1967, where once again we meet Ester. An older and more experienced woman now, she's shocked when faces from her past reappear, with many questions to be answered.

That's a quick synopsis, but leaves out the drama and intrigue that creates Ester's story during the war, and afterwards and much later on in the modern-day. Whilst all of us will be familiar with the horrors inflicted by Nazi Germany during the war, I think many of us will be unaware of Norway's wartime history, and the author deals with some of the darkest and most terrible parts of this country's past. 

To go into detail about the plot would be wrong, for Ola Dahl does that with a flair and passion and the aim of this review is to get my readers to go out and try the book for themselves.
You will be treated to a tense but beautifully written wartime spy story that is drenched in atmosphere with a female lead character who is so engaging, and dogged and so skilfully crafted.

The short, sharp sentences are almost bullet like, and this author uses every single word carefully and with a sharp precision; there's an almost breathless feeling to the narrative and this is expertly translated by Don Bartlett.

The Courier is a riveting mystery thriller with a vividly created sense of place. Highly recommended.

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. 
n 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.

Twitter @ko_dahl


 ‘A masterclass in plotting, atmosphere and character that finely balances shocking twists with the coppers’ complicated personal lives’ The Sunday Times Crime Club 

‘A chilling novel about betrayal’ The Sunday Times 

‘If you have never sampled Dahl, now is the time to try’ Daily Mail 

 ‘Dark, stylish and suspenseful, Faithless is the perfect example of why Nordic Noir has become such a popular genre’ Reader’s Digest

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