When the mother of a missing two-year-old girl is seriously injured in a suspected terrorist attack in Oslo, crime-fighting duo Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the case, and things aren’t adding up … The second instalment in the addictive, atmospheric, award-winning Blix & Ramm series.
Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.
Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.
Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…
When you read books by these individual authors, you always guaranteed stories that are first class and exciting! Put them together and you have a quality of story on a whole different level, two creative and intelligent minds having merged to deliver a story so taunt, so electrifying, that it’s impossible to turn away.
In Smoke Screen we are returning to the second in the Blix and Ramm series and it is splendid. So often writers seem to allow their writing to become predictable in continuing series, but not here. There are connections with events in Death Deserved as the storyline flows effortlessly into Smoke Screen, yet it is very much its own story. Nothing feels as if you know what is coming, because each instalment is not a mirror image of the one before, because Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger have instilled within Smoke Screen a story that compliments it’s predecessor, but at the same time is feels bold and exciting as an individual story.
It gives us character development with both the personalities of Blix and Ramn being refined and explored and though the story feels fast paced, the power of the characterisation is never allowed to feel second best. This is an intelligent thriller and the characters reflect that!
Emma Ramm seems at first insecure, needy in the first few pages, but we have to remember she had a rough ride in Death Deserved and as a character that is reflected in her personality. But to simply see her as damaged and insecure, is to do her and the writing a disservice, for she is remarkably nuanced and grows with each page into a into a burgeoning investigative reporter, whose intuitive understanding of people and their motives, means she is always determined to pursue a killer! Brave, often reckless, this gets her into dangerous situations, but she is never a damsel in distress, the weak link, as so many female character’s become in thrillers. Her keen intelligence is brought to the fore in Smoke Screen, shown as she peruses the story and justice. She walks towards dangerous situation, not the victim, but the deliverer of justice for the victims.
Oh, then there is dear, determined Blix, who like Ramm is a seeker of justice and a man of integrity. Years of reading thrillers, left me a bit jaded! Most of the detectives in them are grim, insular men who stomp their way through the story, grunting at their underlings, not Blix! Within this novel his thirst to bring justice to the victims of crime really comes to the fore. He was originally involved in the investigation of of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass disappearance and never having solved it, it eats away at his soul. Smoke Screen gives him the chance to put that right and he opens up even more into the man of honesty and principle I have come to love. I respect how his connection with Ramm is explored more and how that nurturing side of his character is further delved into, not just in connection with the case, but his colleagues. Bless it be, no grunting from Blix, just encouragement and trust in his own intuition and his colleagues expertise.
Then there is the story. What can I say, two writers of immense talent are never going to deliver a dud! Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are international best sellers for a reason, they are skilled wordsmiths! From the first page to the last, I was sat wrapped up in a story that was so addictive, it felt like I was there within the landscape it was set in. I could feel the cold seeping into my bones. I was a nervous wreck whenever I perceived Blix or Ramm to be in danger. I walked down the false trails they tricked me into following and felt a tingling of excitement as I realised we were approaching the conclusion. Best of all was how both writers manipulated the quiet moments in the novel and then set off an explosion within the narrative that had me sitting bolt upright, shocked to the core and breathless with excitement.
As you may have guessed I loved Smoke Screen, so much so, the next book read, suffered in comparison to the genius on display in this addictive thriller.
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About the authors
Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & ThomasEnger’s first co-written thriller.
About the translator
Freelance commercial and literary translator and editor. Recipient of the National Centre for Writing’s 2019 Emerging Translator Mentorship programme. I graduated in 2018 from the University of Edinburgh with a MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature and a distinction in spoken Norwegian. I am on track to receive a distinction in my MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies at the University of Manchester, specialising in Norwegian and Danish translation into English. I am currently conducting a research dissertation on Bokmål and Nynorsk neural machine translation, whilst I continue my freelance work, in which I am translating a Norwegian crime novel for Orenda Books and working on regular business-to-consumer translations for UK and Norway-based LSPs.