The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn

Thank you to Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books for sending me a copy of this novel. All views are my own

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I opened the cover to this book, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know that I will be wrapped in a story, so beautifully written and translated. I didn’t know that it would become one of my favourite books I read this year. I simply didn’t know…

The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn starts from a very simple premise: the need to discover and understand the truth. The story unravels in front of the readers eyes from the perspective of Nina, who together with her daughter Ingeborg, go to inspect the house in which Ingeborg together with her daughter and her husband will move into. However what Nina doesn’t expect is that shortly after they give notice to Mari, the current tenant living in their house, she would disappear without a trace.

The need to understand what happened together with the feeling that something more hides behind this disappearance, especially when Mari left behind her son with her parents, steers Nina deeper and deeper into the story. Is Nina prepared to face the truth? Or is she just going along because she wants to alleviate the guilt that has nestled inside herself ever since she’s visited the house?

Agnes Ravatn has written probably one of the best psychological thrillers set in Norway; the ending leaving its readers wondering why they haven’t read the book sooner.

Structurally, Ravatn captures the attention of her readers by writing short snappy sentences, within short chapters. From the get-go, the urgency of the story and the sinister, dance together before the readers eyes, enticing them to read more and more.

The cast of characters are just fabulous; Nina is my favourite out of them. She’s a 40-year-old, highly educated woman who isn’t afraid to be herself. I could read an entire crime saga with Nina at the front and center of the series, because she comes off as a natural character, feeling almost life-like. Through out the novel, all decisions she takes make sense, and doesn’t strike the reader as out-of-character.

The Seven Doors is out now and can be ordered from Orenda Books. I highly recommend this read to everyone who is a fan of Nordic Noir. But I also see this book being enjoyed by people who haven’t read Nordic Noir before, because this book is a marvelous introduction to what a good, Noir novel can do.

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl

Thank you to Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books Publicity Team for sending me a review copy of this book. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I received this novel to review from Orenda Books, I can’t lie, I felt overwhelmed. Kjell Ola Dahl is one of the most prominent authors in Norway; his prose is one of the most engrossing and captivating. I was overwhelmed because on one hand big expectations and didn’t want that to deter my view of this author but on the other hand I knew that if I didn’t try I wouldn’t ever find out.

I am a huge fan of Nordic Noir and Dahl is considered the King, the Godfather, the OG. The Assistant is a reminder to those who have had any doubts of why Dahl holds that title. Intricately plotted, with characters that jump of the page and a very strong sense of place. Norway during the prohibition era and the period leading up to the second world war has never looked, smelled and tasted better.

Kjell Ola Dahl doesn’t write novels; he creates experiences by executing a strong sense of place of a spellbinding period that leaves its readers crave more.

The premise of the novel is what caught my attention from the get go. The idea of having former nemesis working together and seeing how their relationship evolved through the years was really thrilling. Structurally the novel jumps between two timelines which in itself at the moment seems to be an attractive tool to build up tension and revelations in crime and thriller novels. But what Dahl manages to create with the timeline is an immersive experience in two unique worlds that readers don’t often get time to enjoy. The historical elements seem conjured flawlessly and that is where Dahl shines. The immersive narrative and descriptions presented in a matter-of-factly way allows readers to create their own opinions on the action and characters. Due to this I found myself wishing that I wouldn’t ever finish this book, wanting to stay in the world that Dahl created and even explore it even more.

The two main characters of the book, Jack Rivers and Ludvig Paaske will be the main attraction to this novel. Being a more character driven novel, Rivers and Paaske are the backbone of this novel. I see Jack Rivers being an instant fan favourite but my heart belongs to Paaske. The way things end for Paaske really hurt me in my feelings.

The Assistant is a great reminder to everyone why Kjell Ola Dahl is the King of Nordic Noir. Kjell Ola Dahl doesn’t write novels; he creates experiences by executing a strong sense of place and characters that are easy to fall in love with by taking his readers through a spellbinding journey that leaves the reader craving for more.

Don Bartlett also deserves a lot of credit as without him this book wouldn’t have come to life on the English market. The translation is impeccable and feels natural for readers that have read before translated fiction. He manages to capture the Nordic feel of the novel brilliantly without sacrificing the narrative that Dahl infused in it.

Published by Orenda Books, The Assistant is available in e-book and will be coming out in May in paperback. I would strongly recommend this novel for lovers of historical fiction, character driven thrillers and amazing tension. This is also a great novel for writers who are wanting to understand effective tools and methods used in writing for sense of place and good direct characterization.

Best of February 2021

Although February has long been and gone I wanted to still make a post about the best books that I’ve managed to read in February. However please bear in mind that although some full reviews might still be pending and will shortly appear on the blog, the criteria for me to include books in a “Best of” is that the books have been read in that particular month.

Without further ado, here are the top 3 books I’ve read in February.

3rd Place – Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Will Carver is one of the best Noir writers (if not the best Noir writers in the UK) and it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of him and his writing.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver is plotted to perfection, the pacing is marvelous and the twists are at every corner. I gasped out loud when I read this book because it swallowed me whole and by the time I came out on the other side, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Good Samaritans came out in 2018 published by Orenda Books and is really really worth checking out. This can be ordered wherever you shop for books.

Carver has also a new novel coming out this year with Orenda Books called The Beresford which I can’t wait to read before I get Will Carver Withdrawal.

2nd Place – The Friend by Charlie Gallagher

The Friend was the first book I read by Charlie Gallagher. Shame on me as he is a brilliant author who managed to grip me with this novel.

I’m not going to go into many details about the plot and characters because the novel is coming out very very soon and I can’t wait to be able to speak with people about the brilliance of this novel.

Gallagher will definitely be one of the authors I’m going to follow when it comes to Police Procedural novels.

The Friend comes out on 01/04/2021 from Avon Books and can be pre-ordered everywhere good books are sold.

1st Place – The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Gosh, I loved this book. The way Catriona Ward writes just so enthralling and refreshing. The Last House on Needless Street is the type of book that you have to cancel your plans for the day and prepare yourself for a ride.

The multi-layered plot is brilliantly executed because there are red herrings peppered through it. Ward plays a fair game, giving you enough hints for you to be able to figure out the mystery at it’s heart but because her descriptions are so vivid I wasn’t able to guess in advance the plot twist.

I wouldn’t be surprised if The Last House on Needless Street will be considered the epitome of gothic and even psychological thrillers of this decade.

The Last House on Needless Street is out today, 18/03/2021 from Viper Books and can be bought everywhere good books are sold.

March has been as amazing as February so far and I have a few other highly anticipated reads lined up for this month which I know will give me trouble to make the Best of March. Nonetheless, keep on reading <3.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So just in case you are wondering, yes I’m a huge fan of Will Carver’s novels. I might start a fan club, raise a shrine for his books (kidding – or maybe not?).

This was my first ever book that I read by Will Carver. I didn’t know what to expect. I opened the book and was knocked off my feet and my head was spinning and then it was over. Just like that. It was over.

The premise was what attracted be to this book. “Nine suicides. One cult. No leader.” Enticing right? Well the way Carver manages to pull everything together in the book is mind blowing. I was in awe and after finishing it, I had to see if this was a one-off thing, where he manages to pull it off.

I’m happy to report now after finishing Good Samaritans that it isn’t. Carver is just that genius.

Another thing that drew my attention to Nothing Important Happened Today was that Carver doesn’t introduce Detective Sergeant Pace only after around 80 pages. But believe me when I tell you, that you won’t notice. The pace of the whole story is insane, the amount of set up Carver manages to cram into the first half of the book at first scared me. I thought that the pay off would definitely lack in punch but once again I was proved wrong.

Carver wraps you around his finger with real characters, amazing pacing and a good balance between set up and pay off.

The book opens with the suicide of nine people who jump at the same time from the Chelsea Bridge. There’s no indication that the nine people knew each other but they all have one thing in common. They all had received a letter that morning containing only four words. Nothing Important Happened Today.

I’ve mentioned in my review of Good Samaritans that Carver uses short and snappy chapters to make your heart beat in your chest and giving off the impression that everything happens at an insane speed. The same applies here, giving just enough information to paint a very vivid image in the readers mind. There are plentiful characters which each and every one seems fleshed out and well though out. The characters give the book almost as much life as the heart racing pacing.

There is just a certain magic (because I can’t exactly explain otherwise how) that Carver weaves into his books that wraps his readers around his finger by telling real but also frighteningly plausible stories with an amazing cast of characters, outstanding pacing and a good balance between set up in his first half of the novels and the pay off in his second half.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I recently read Good Samaritans by Will Carver as I had previously enjoyed Nothing Important Happened Today which in true BooksTechnica fashion was the second book in the Detective Sergeant Pace series and had to read the first installment of the series as well.

Although, in my opinion you could read the series out of order (at least with the first two books) I strongly recommend you start with the first one because it’s so good. I always enjoyed noir novels so I had a feeling that I would enjoy Carver novels too.

From the start of the book Good Samaritans establishes itself as a novel that will stick with you even after you finish it and have moved on to your next read. Carver uses the need of humans to connect with other humans to set up this noir thriller brilliantly.

Carver is one of the best Noir authors out there. His writing is enticing, making you crave more.

Told from mainly three points of view, we follow Seth Beauman who has trouble sleeping on the path of trying to connect with people over the phone. When he reaches a suicidal Hadley Serf, his late-night hobby turns into something more vicious. The use of the points of view is strong and captivating, giving the novel a level of complexity that many writers aspire to reach but at which Carver seems to be a natural.

The characters and their development is as well flawlessly executed and although I tried to scream at my book trying to make a character or the other to just see sense and don’t walk on the path Carver has set them on, the motivation of characters is very well blended in with the choices they are taking and every step or direction they are set on makes complete sense. Although there is some strong language, I’ve never felt like the word choice took anything away from the book; in fact making it better and more thrilling.

The title of the novel might sound innocent and a light read but it is nothing of the sort. Carver is one of the best Noir authors out there and his writing is so enticing that it makes you crave more. Structurally executed in quick and snappy chapters, the book is not easy to put down. And the twists will blow your mind.

On my Jo Nesbo scale, I would say that Carver needs his own because he is just that good. I even considered replacing my Jo Nesbo Scale into the Will Carver Scale. Carver is automatically an instant buy for me now regardless what he will publish in the future because of his writing style and structural brillince. For any writers that aspire to get a Noir published I would highly recommend Carver’s work to understand and dissect how a noir novel should be constructed and what the standard in my opinion should be.

Good Samaritans has been published by Orenda Books on the 15th of November 2018 and is available over on Amazon, Kobo, Waterstones and anywhere else good books are sold (hopefully). If it isn’t make sure that this book will be in stock where you purchase your books because it deserves to be.

The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jo Nesbo, for me, is one of the best scandinavian writers up there with Ragnar Jonasson. There is just something about his Harry Hole series, besides the amazing plot and characters, that draws me in instantly when I see that there is another book being translated and published.

However The Kingdom has somehow managed to sneak past me and was surprised after Christmas to find that the book had been published and is available to be bought. So I didn’t linger too long on the Waterstone’s webpage and acquired it.

Now, to a certain degree, because it carried his name, I went into this book with a certain expectation. Expectations that usually Nesbo manages to match if not exceed. Yet after finishing The Kingdom I found myself longing for something more. Something that I couldn’t place my finger on.

Jo Nesbo does thriller well because he understand his readers.

I believe that once you publish as many books and carry the success that Nesbo has carried, something needs to be changed from time to time. You can’t simply carry on without challenging yourself as a writer, whether that means changing the genre in which you’re writing or by telling different stories from the ones that brought your success. I liked this about his books. I like that he doesn’t stick with a pattern and tries new things that probably excite him as a writer.

However as a reader, there is a reason why I return to Nesbo. Whether it is for the flawed characters (which The Kingdom has plenty of) or whether it is for the actioned packed plot, you return because you liked what you read. Right? There is something that appeals to you. It can be anything.

I mentioned in a previous post that Harry Hole for me is the stable for crime thrillers however I should have probably looked into the book more. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been disappointed to find a domestic thriller about two brothers that have had a difficult childhood and now that they are grown up they find themselves pushed with their backs against the wall when a cold case from when they were children gains the attention of the current police detective.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Kingdom however it isn’t what I expected when it came to a Jo Nesbo novel. It is definitely a more character driven novel than a plot driven novel than his Harry Hole series. There is a clear path set out for the protagonist from the beginning. You as the reader discover things from his perspective and understand why he is the way he is. Because of this the protagonist (if he can even be called a protagonist…) is the most striking feature that is still with me now that I read the book.

Nesbo does thriller well because he understands his readers. He understands that every promise he makes in the first part of the novel requires to have a reveal and a pay off (regardless if the reader agrees with it or not) towards the end of the novel. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who has enjoyed Nesbo in the past but also to new readers to the Nordic Noir genre who want to be gripped by a beautiful, pristine setting. I also would recommend this novel to aspiring authors who want to read and understand how a flawed character should be written.