Book review: Thomas Enger’s “Pierced”

Book cover for Thomas Enger's "Pierced"

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

Pierced, the second novel in Thomas Enger’s Henning Juul series, is just as breathtaking as the first.

In Burned, investigative reporter Henning Juul has just returned to work after taking an extended leave of absence. He was scarred physically and emotionally by a fire in his apartment and the resultant death of his young son Jonas. Henning suspects the cause of the fire was arson, but he has no evidence and no suspects.

His arson theory continues to obsess Henning in Pierced. He is surprised and encouraged when he receives a call from Tore Pulli, a man incarcerated for murder in Oslo Prison: “If you clear me, I will tell you who was responsible for your son’s death,” Tore tells Henning.

Henning desperately wants to know who is responsible, but can he trust Tore? Doubt lurks in his mind. If I help Tore, will Tore or can Tore help me? Who framed Tore? Was he framed? Is he actually guilty? Is he simply using me? Henning decides he has no other promising options, so he agrees to help Tore.

In a parallel story, Torleif Brenden, a cameraman for TV2, is approached by a criminal and ordered to carry out a murder. When Torleif objects, he is told that he had better follow orders unless he wants to see his girlfriend and children dead.

Like Henning, Torleif feels he has no choice. He is given a deadly needle and ordered to pierce the victim with it (hence the title). To his surprise, he gets away with murder. However, he realizes that he must disappear. He knows the identity of the men responsible and they will certainly want him dead so that he will not talk.

Suddenly, the paths of these parallel stories cross. The man Torleif is ordered to kill is none other than Tore himself, the man who may have key information related to Henning’s apartment fire and son’s death. Henning is devastated at Tore’s death. Now he has yet another case to solve.

Enger is very skillful at developing strong, believable characters and at creating plots that engage the reader. We want to know who caused the fire. We want to know who framed Tore. We want to know who killed Tore. We are constantly in a state of high anxiety as both men, Henning and Torleif, are pursued by dangerous men. Henning is out in the open and vulnerable; Torleif tries to hide, but he too is vulnerable. We find ourselves on the edge of our seats!

Scarred, the third novel in the Henning Juul series, is currently available in English translation. Enger now has a total of six novels in this remarkable series.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 2, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Christine Foster Meloni

Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She values her Norwegian heritage.