Smoke Screen

Book review

Washington, D.C.

Smoke Screen is the second book in the Blix and Ramm trilogy by best-selling Norwegian crime novelists Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger. It is a thrilling page-turner like the first book Death Deserved with many unexpected twists and turns.

The title is very appropriate. A smoke screen is defined as “something designed to obscure, confuse, or mislead.” Alexander Blix and Emma Ramm often pursue leads that prove surprisingly wrong.

The backgrounds of the two writers are effectively mirrored in the two protagonists of this novel. Horst’s years as an investigative police officer provide authenticity for inspector Blix while Enger’s years working as a journalist also make the journalist Ramm credible. The collaboration of these two popular writers, therefore, is a match made in heaven!

As in Death Deserved, a current crime leads Blix back to one that was previously unsolved. Ten years earlier, 2-year-old Patricia Smeplass was kidnapped and never found. The case was eventually closed, and Patricia was presumed dead. Blix, however, cannot let go and continues to work unofficially on this cold case. He wants to find out who kidnapped Patricia and why. He suspects that she was probably killed and wants to bring the guilty person to justice.

The current connection is made when someone sets off a bomb during a New Year’s Eve celebration. Patricia’s mother is seriously injured. Was she indeed the target? If so, why? Soon after, Patricia’s father receives a photo of a young girl with no explanation. He is certain that it is his daughter, and he believes, therefore, that she must be alive. But who sent him the photo and why? Is the girl in the photo really Patricia?

Emma was close to the explosion as was her partner, who was killed instantly in the blast. Understandably, she immediately takes a very personal interest in the crime. She and Blix again begin unofficially to help each other as much as possible to find the person responsible for placing the bomb in a dumpster.

Blix succeeds in convincing his often-recalcitrant superior to reopen the case of the missing girl when there seem to be definite clues that the two events are connected. Ramm also succeeds in convincing her boss that this case is definitely newsworthy, and she digs deeply into both mysteries, the kidnapping of Patricia and the placement of the bomb.

The book is very well written and provides the reader with many surprises along the way toward the unexpected solutions of both crimes, the old and the new.

The third novel in the trilogy is Slagside, which became available in English with the title Unhinged this month. It promises to be a good read as well.

Smoke Screen by Horst, Jørn Lier and Thomas Enger (2021) Røykteppe, trans. Megan Turney. Orenda books: United Kingdom. Available at major booksellers.

Author Jørn Lier Horst photographed by Gorm Kallestad.

Author Thomas Enger photographed by Terje Pedersen.



Photos: NTB

This article originally appeared in the June 24, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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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.