Cursed with another suspenseful novel

book cover for Cursed by Thomas Enger

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

Cursed is the fourth book in the Henning Juhl series by popular Norwegian crime writer, Thomas Enger. In the first novel, Burned, someone sets Juhl’s apartment on fire. Juhl survives but his young son dies. Naturally, Juhl wants to discover the identity of the criminal responsible and bring him to justice (or, more likely, exact his revenge).

Readers follow Juhl’s slow, frustrating quest through the first three novels, Burned, Pierced, and Scarred. Now, in Cursed, he makes serious progress. He learns that the person responsible is a prominent lawyer known in criminal circles as Daddy Longlegs.

Meanwhile, Juhl’s ex-wife Nora, a reporter for Norway’s prestigious newspaper Aftenposten, becomes personally involved in what she believes to be a crime. The husband of her childhood friend Hedda Hellberg contacts Nora to ask for her help. Hedda was grieving after the death of her father and decided to go to Italy for a short vacation. But she never arrived at her destination and has disappeared without a trace.

Nora immediately begins work on the case, convinced that Hedda would never voluntarily leave her husband and toddler son. She remembers that Hedda’s Aunt Ellen also disappeared many years ago and was never found. Suicide was suspected at the time. Now many feel that Hedda has committed suicide as well. After all, it runs in the family!

Nora immediately suspects foul play and believes that the family is involved. She begins to interrogate the members of the powerful Hellberg family. She finds them all rather suspicious characters. It is not entirely clear how they built up their business empire. How did they get their money? Most likely, not by legal means. Was Hedda about to go public with a damaging family secret?

While gathering information from family members, Nora becomes convinced that at least one family member, if not more, is responsible. She consults with the local police chief and together they succeed in solving the mystery of Ellen Hellberg.

The search for Hedda intensifies, and the plot takes many exciting twists and turns. The seemingly separate investigations of Henning (for Daddy Longlegs) and Nora (for Hedda) suddenly cross paths and the former spouses, therefore, begin to work together and share information. Both of their lives are in serious danger as they learn more and more.

Does Juhl track down Daddy Longlegs in the end? Does Nora find Hedda or evidence of her murder? These questions will not be answered here. No spoiler alert! But rest assured that Cursed is an enjoyable thriller filled with suspense and surprises that will leave readers eager to read the fifth and final book in the series.

Cursed: A Crime Novel, by Thomas Enger, was published by Orenda Books in 2017. Translated from the original Norwegian Våpenskjold (2014) by Kari Dickson.

This article originally appeared in the July 28, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Avatar photo

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.