Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

Thank you to Joe Christie from Quercus for giving me the opportunity to join the blog tour and sending me an advance readers copy. All views are my own

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if your friend would ask you for your help? Would you say yes even though you are in over your head? How far are you willing to go for your friendship? Would you help them cover up a murder?

Back in January I had come across a little book titled ‘Dear Child’. The cover was the first thing that drew me towards the novel, having never heard of its author, Romy Hausmann. January was a month where I wanted desperately to go back to my roots, to spending hours upon hours discovering the German literature in high school, reading the small printed Reklam Ausgaben that had the colorful covers that looked more like collectibles. I had instantly made a connection with Hausmann and after finishing Dear Child I had to write a review about it. Back then little did I know that Quercus probably had already started to work on Hausmann’s debut – Marta Schläft – and mentioned even in my review that I hoped this would be translated.

Of course I didn’t have any patience and had a friend of mine in Berlin go and buy the German edition of the book. ( I think that book got lost in transit since it never reached me in the UK -.-” ) But then I found out that Quercus was going to publish Marta Schläft (trans. Sleepless) and it was happening sooner than I thought. And I made myself a promise, that if a blog tour would be organised, I had to be part of it.

Thankfully and thanks to Joe Christie who was kind enough to make my dream come true, I was allowed to take part in the amazing blog tour for this novel and now the time has come for me to share my thoughts on Sleepless.

With a strong publishing debut, Hausmann solidifies her status as the Queen of German suspense; proving her skills and abilities as a writer.

Meine Gütte did I enjoy Sleepless. Usually when it comes to debuts, I spot from the very first few pages that this is the first book someone has written. However with Sleepless, I never had that feeling; Hausmann brilliantly executing a complex narrative told from three points of view and on three different timelines.

The story follows the events in the life of Nadja who has been raised in Poland but now lives in Berlin. Her childhood wasn’t the best but she is now ready (or at least to a certain degree) ready to leave the past in the past and focus on her future. She is living a some-what normal life. Nadja has a job, and an apartament, however living is not as easy as it is for others. Battling with mental health issues and anxiety, Nadja finds it at times difficult to go on the subway, doesn’t like large groups of people and in the eyes of others her living conditions aren’t the best.

But to a certain degree Nadja is on the path of getting better. That’s until her friend one day appears at her work and tells her she needs her help. Nadja doesn’t hesitate to help her and why should she? Her therapist had told her she needs to make connections, and build friendships. But with what her so called friend needs help with isn’t opening a jar or help clean out the house of unnecessary things that she gathered without noticing. It’s with hiding a body.

The story from here on unravels in rapid successions. Multiple POVs contribute to fill in the picture about Nadja’s past and how she got to be who she is today. I’m not going to spoil the ending but all I’m going to let you know is that it is worth every moment.

The way Hausmann structured the novel I think is genius. We start somwhere in the middle of the story, without any context. We don’t know what’s happening only that things are happening. I found the moment to open the story perfect because it gave plenty of time and opportunity to give sufficient information to the reader whilst allowing for the current timeline to flow naturally. It also helped the overall ARC of the story to avoid any soggy middles by turning up the dial on the tension in the present moment and making the readers ask themselves how someone cold end in such a terrible position.

Sleepless, if I hadn’t known it was Hausmann’s debut, I would have been certain that it was written by an experienced writer that has penned many novels before. Simply from the structure adopted, I can only imagine how a difficult of a task it has been for Hausmann to strike the perfect balance that she has achieved. Now, thinking back to it, I should’ve known that Hausmann is a master storyteller from reading the intricate and yet effortlessly executed Dear Child.

Sleepless is definitely a great read for anyone who wants to see what German thrillers are all about. And paired with Jamie Bulloch’s translation, it is a perfect read for new readers of translated fiction as well as hard core lovers of the genre. Sleepless is now out everywhere where good books are sold and you should definitely check it out.

Please make sure you check out the other amazing reviewers who are part of this blog tour as well as check out Duncan’s review from Fiction from Afar who is my go to person when it comes to translated fiction reviews.

The Secret War by Louise Burfitt-Dons

Thank you to Anne Carter for giving me the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and to Louise Burfitt-Dons for sending me an advance readers copy of this novel. All views are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Where is the line you draw between fiction and reality? What if the reality to you’ve been told to believe isn’t actually the reality at all? What if what others would quickly dismiss as a conspiracy theory is in fact what truly happened?

These are only a few of the questions that I found myself asking myself as I turned page after page in The Secret War by Louise Burfitt-Dons. I had my reservations about this book when I first saw the invitation from the lovely Anne to join this blog tour but I told myself that I needed to step outside of my comfort zone if I wanted to discover more books to love and adore. And spoiler alert… I don’t regret that decision.

With a very close to anyone’s heart premise, I dived deep into this action packed thriller following characters that were very well fleshed out and made me take an interest in the overall Karen Andersen series that Burfitt-Dons has penned.

With a chilling premise and twists and turns at every page, The Secret War is definitely the perfect read for lovers of Dan Brown and Blake Crouch thrillers.

Without spoiling the books content too much, the story centers around one particular premise that I have found gutsy. What if one of the biggest nations in the world would develop a bio-weapon to further their plans for the world? But going off of only this idea, and why I find this idea so intriguing and gutsy is that if this is not done right, the repercussions could be immense.

Having now read The Secret War I understand just how well these types of books can be written. There were many times where I had feared that the characterization might go wrong but the thrill of discovering the narrative as well as the plot only added to the excitement and thrill. With a strong list of characters, I found myself often swept into the story and my hyperactive imagination made come alive in my mind. And I’m not kidding, I really got some big Mr Robot vibes (but not to the extend where I found it too similar).

The Secret War is a unique story that flips the ‘What If?’ plot theory on its head and delivers a strong story told from multiple locations and points of view. I highly recommend this book to the lovers of action thriller genre but also to readers who have been enjoying Dan Brown’s thrillers and Blake Crouch.

I’m very thankful to Anne Carter and Louise Burfitt-Dons for allowing me to take part in this blog tour and if you haven’t already make sure you check out Varietats review form the 21st of June here. Also tomorrow is BooklyMatters turn over on instagram to share their thoughts on the book, so make sure you head over to her instagram account (@booklymatters) and give them a follow to check out their review.

The Secret War is now available to be order on Amazon and even is free to read on Kindle if you have a KindleUnlimited subscription. So there’s no reason why not to check this thrilling read.

The Girl on the Platform by Bryony Pearce

Thank you to Avon Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today (23rd of May) it is my turn in the blog tour of The Girl on the Platform to let you guys know what I thought about this book. When I dived into it, I didn’t know if I knew what to expect.

From the outset we follow Bridget, who has had her daughter together with her husband Tom not long ago and who is battling what at first I thought to be postpartum depression.

On her way back from work, Bridget witnesses how a girl is snatched from one of the platforms. The train doesn’t stop on the platform and Bridget questions the other passengers to see if they saw the same thing as she did. Defeated, she realises that no one else saw the kidnapping of the little girl.

From there everything spirals out of control for Bridget. She can’t think of anything else but the girl that has been kidnapped. Although she reported the kidnapping, the police seem to not make any progress in finding out who has taken the girl. And she even doubts that they believe her claims.

Has Bridget really seen a kidnapping? Every one else tells her she had dreamt it, imagined it but she feels that there is more to it than a bad dream.

Uncomfortable and gut-clenching, The Girl on the Platform provides an important insight on mental health of mothers and the repercussions of not addressing these when they arise. 

Neglecting her marriage and neglecting her daughter, Bridget can only think of the girl who none except for her, it seems, will try to find her. She lies to Tom, she is exhausted being riddled with nightmares as a side effect of the drugs she is taking to battle her anxiety and depression and when things couldn’t get any worse, Social Services, appear at her house threatening to take her daughter.

In a culmination to the story we learn that Bridget’s own mother has made a case to Social Services to take her daughter for her own good. But why would she do that, and what would she have to gain from it? Well, I will not spoil the ending and would definitely recommend you to check out this book because the ending is something different from what you would expect from this sort of book.

If you pick up this book, be ready for an uncomfortable read that will make you feel sorry and confused at the same time (confused in a good way). The unreliable narrator in Bridget makes you the reader doubt everything you read to the degree of starting, even to doubt yourself of what you are reading. Pearce has done an outstanding job bringing the spotlight on mental issues and repercussions of them if we do not address them in a thrilling psychological novel that punches you in the gut with raw and uncomfortable scenes that feel a bit too real. 

The Girl on the Platform is out everywhere where excellent books are sold and I hope you will pick it up and share your thoughts with me. 

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Thank you to Viper Books for an advance copy of this book. All views my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if the person you love disappears one day, leaving you behind with only a note? A note in which he doesn’t even justify his actions, but instead leaves you with only two words.

Protect her.

From the very first page, The Last Thing He Told Me jumps out of the page. The voice that Laura Dave has channeled and managed to imprint in the pages of this book is clear and strong although filled with sorrow, frustration and an adventure guided by the need to understand who the person that you thought you knew, was.

Told from the point of view of the protagonist of this story, Hannah, the story begins as harmless as the title is. We learn fairly on in the story that Hannah has been raised by her Grandfather and has left New York for the comfort of Sausalito, California where she lives with her husband, Owen and her step daughter, Bailey.

With a voice that gets tattooed into your mind, The Last Thing He Told Me is the most un-put-down-able book you will read this Spring.

Hannah embarks on a journey of discovery that takes her to Austin Texas after her husband Owen is caught in a scandal of fraud at his workplace called The Shop. Nevermind getting through such news, but having to learn the news from a strange girl that shows up at her door leaving Hannah with a note from her husband, is such a heart wrenching moment that I couldn’t even imagine what she goes through.

The message from her husband doesn’t offer Hannah any explication. Just a simple instruction. Protect her. So Hannah embarks on this unknown journey as best as she can. In a whirlwind of events, Hannah finds herself being visited by Grady, a US Marshal from Austin, Texas that tells her that the best thing she can do is lay low and get a lawyer. Shortly after the US Marshal pays her the visit, FBI visit her at her office.

Feeling unable to answer the questions that Hannah feels everyone wants her to answer (Where is your husband?) and left with only her memories with Owen to pick at to find clues, Hannah takes Bailey and make a trip to Austin, Texas in the hopes that the city will give them some answers. Once there, Hannah learns something about her husband that she never thought she was going to have to deal with: her husband, Owen Michaels, doesn’t exist and has never existed since the moment he arrived in Sausalitos.

Why would he lie to her? Why did Owen disappear without a trace and no explanation? And who is Owen actually?

Filled with an intricate plot line and a strong voice, The Last Thing He Told Me is one of my favorite reads in a while. Refreshingly unique but also filled with moments that made me second guess what I was reading, this book is excellent for anyone who is looking for a book that will not allow you to rest until you finished it.

The Last Thing He Told Me is out now everywhere where good books are sold. I think that Viper has done a brilliant job this year to bring to the forefront interesting and unique stories having had published in the span of a few months two of my new instant favourite books (I’m talking of course about The Last House On Needless Street being the other one).

The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall

Thank you to Bookouture Publicity Team for the advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When Eva learns that her parents had been keeping away secrets from her, she embarks on a journey of finding the truth and at least understand why her parents would keep the truth from her.

That is how The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall starts. Written in three parts, the story develops before the reader’s eyes from mainly two points of view. Eva and Nancy. Eva, who has been brought up by her father and her stepmother, and Nancy, Eva’s sister, who was presumed to have committed suicide after their biological mother’s death.

The decision taken by Halsall to award a part to each character was smart looking back at the story. Initially, as I was reading the story, I was a bit reticent because I was afraid that this might take away from the experience of discovering the story. But it wasn’t anything like that. It made perfect sense why Halsall chose to relay the story this way. If she had written it in any other way, I don’t think that the story would have been as enjoyable as it was.

The Liar’s Daughter is a thrilling read with many twists and turns that punch you in the gut, exploring how much one can rely on what you are being told versus what you are seeing is happening.

The story starts with Eva, who founds out from her stepmother that her sister had been admitted into the hospital and would require someone to take care of her. Eva agrees to go and help her out for a few days. On the road there, Eva struggles to understand why her stepmother had lied about her having a sister when she knew she was still alive. When she gets to the hospital, she meets her sister and takes her home to a remote, old farmhouse.

Strange things happen there. Food starts to go missing, windows are open, and the house seems alive with creeks and noises. Eva has a strong feeling that she is being watched, and as she explores the house and the surroundings, she has a strange feeling that something is not adding up. And when Eva discovers a body buried in the garden, she is convinced that she needs to go as far away as she can from this place. But before she can do it, she is caught by her sister and locked in a room. 

Then we get Nancy’s story, and we understand that after she ran away from home, she didn’t actually commit suicide but was actually taken in by a nice and welcoming woman. But appearances aren’t always what they seem, and the woman suddenly starts to manipulate her into believing that if she leaves, she would be arrested for the murder of her mother. Things spiral out, and in an attempt to escape the farmhouse, she knocks the woman out and leaves her behind.

Having read the first part as a reader, we know that the woman who says is Nancy isn’t actually Eva’s sister. But the woman who kept Eva’s sister hostage. I won’t spoil the ending, so if you want to find out how it ends, definitely check out the book.

The Liar’s Daughter is out today (26/04/2021) in e-book and paperback from bookouture. I would highly recommend this to fans of psychological thrillers and anyone who wants to dive into a story filled with twists and turns. 

The Vatican Secret by Peter Hogenkamp

Thank you to bookouture Publicity team for offering me a copy of this novel in advance of its publication. All view are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dubbed as James Bond but with priests, I was pleasantly surprised by The Vatican Secret. Although it is the second novel in the series and the story picking up right after where the first one ended, I asked myself if I would be able to pick up the pieces and understand what was going on. In true BooksTechnica fashion, reading a series out of order seems to be the staple, but I’m happy once again to report that this book can be enjoyed out of order but probably not as much as reading it in order.

Having now finished The Vatican Secret, I have a new appreciation for the action-thriller genre. And here’s the thing: I don’t usually reach for books with a conspiracy at its core. I don’t know if it is necessarily because I feel like they would disappoint me or why I shy away from reading these types of thrillers, but I do realise now that there is a whole new unexplored area for me to dive in to. Because if The Vatican Secret has left me with something, it was with an appetite for action thrillers. And I’m eager to pick up the first novel in the series to see where the characters started.

With deliciously flawed characters and paced from cover to cover with heart-racing scenes, The Vatican Secret is an excellent introduction to the action-thriller genre.

Going into the book, I was instantly swept into the story. It feels to me that there is no break, that as a reader (regardless if you have read the first book or not), you are carried away by the story. Written from multiple points of view, following both the antagonists and the protagonists, it feels to me that Hogenkamp chose an easily accessible topic that everyone would find appealing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know the politics and what goes on behind closed doors in the Vatican?

The characters are perfectly flawed. I loved how Hogenkamp ensured that we spend enough time with each side to the point that I started (at least a part of me) rooting for the bad guys. I wanted to see what would happen if things didn’t go to plan for both the protagonists and antagonists, and I’m glad to say that things don’t go as planned multiple times throughout the story.

There was one thing that did disappoint me, and that is mainly the ending. I think this is also because we got to spend time with both sides–the ones trying to protect the Vatican from nuclear destruction and the ones trying to ensure that the Vatican will go down–that I found myself at the end conflicted. I would have wanted to see a dramatic ending because this book is packed with action from cover to cover. Instead of the somewhat happy and peaceful ending, I wanted to get the gritty and gory. This is, in the end, just a personal preference from someone who hasn’t read much in the genre but definitely is open to get more insight into it.

Overall I think The Vatican Secret was a perfect introduction for me to the action-thriller genre. I’m excited to see what Hogenkamp has next in store for his readers, and I will keep my eyes peeled on his writing journey. The Vatican Secret is out now from bookouture and is available to be ordered in either paperback or e-book everywhere you shop for your books.

The Sister-in-Law by Pamela Crane

Thanks to Avon Books UK for an advance copy of this book. All views are my own.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Note: Initially I had given this book a 4 star rating but as I wrote my thoughts on digital paper I realized that I was wrong to give it a 4 star rating and have upgraded it to a 4.5 star.

Nothing beats a book that start guns-blazing. Throwing its reader in the middle of what other books aim to have as the climax. But the question I kept asking myself as I started reading this book was: Where does this book go from here?

The Sister-in-Law by Pamela Crane is a domestic thriller novel that brings to the forefront the dynamics of families and especially the dynamics between siblings. But what happens when the person you thought you knew best does something out of the ordinary? What do you do to maintain your relationship? Do you try to make the person see that they are going in a direction you don’t want them to go? Or do you allow them to go on their path as you stand on the sidelines and watch?

Pamela Crane crafts tension out of the triviality of every day life, positioning her characters at opposites sides of the spectrum.

Captivated by the premise of this book, I stepped into the world that Crane created for her readers. I was skeptical after reading the heart pounding first chapter of this book because I didn’t know if the set up was going to work. I’m happy to say that I was both wrong and right at the same time.

The biggest issues I had with the story wasn’t actually with the story itself. I know, it sounds confusing, but please bear with me. I think that every single scene that Crane has penned needed to be in the book. However there was such a strong pacing split between the chapters that were character driven and the ones that were plot driven that at times the scenes that I wanted to focus on the character, to make me understand why the characters were doing things the way they did, came up short, making me feel that some decisions or reactions were uncharacteristic to the persona I was reading about.

Nonetheless, The Sister-in-Law still managed to grip my attention, simply through the tension created between Harper and Candace. Cane manages to create stellar intrigue between her characters by positioning them on the opposite sides of the spectrum. On one hand you have Harper who wants to protect her brother and ensure she maintains her relationship dynamic as it was whilst Candace wants to make a life for herself and ensure that she retains the comfort of home life at all costs.

In the end Harper and Candace have the same goal. They both want to retain what they have with Lane. And there’s nothing that builds tension better than two characters having the same goal that sit on opposite side of the spectrum. Crane strategically starts the novel with a bang to ensure that it builds conflict in the readers at least on a moral level, having them rooting for someone who looks and acts despicably. And it worked with me.

The Sister-in-Law is a great read that suits fans of domestic thrillers but also is a great light read for people who are looking to make a start in the domestic thriller genre. Avon Books has been and will be a perfect place for readers looking for chilling crime novels and heart racing thrillers and Pamela Crane‘s The Sister-in-Law fits their portfolio like a glove.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Thank you to HQ Publicity Team for the ARC. All views are my own.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here tells the story of Ambrosia Wellington, who is now a very different person than to who she was at University. Or is she? Her time at University wasn’t a pleasant one to say the least. Sure, she had good memories, but, overall? Not really the experience one wants to have in more ways than you can imagine.

This fast paced, gripping story about what drives our ambition, what fuels our resentment pool and what we consider a friendship by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a kind reminder to everyone that we should be treating people with more kindness. The setting also fuels my sentiment of needing to do random acts of kindness. University settings are really difficult to do successfully mainly because different people have different experiences. However I think that Flynn has very tactfully handled this. Although I used to be bullied in school and Uni, I didn’t feel triggered by this book however fair warning to everyone wanting to pick this up.

Ambrosia, who wants to be called Amb is the protagonist and the POV character for the entire book. Amb came across as a very insecure person who has been running from her past for far too long. And when an invitation to her ten year reunion arrives, Amb initially doesn’t want to go. Flynn manages from the get go to create a sense of ‘omg-what-will-happen-next’ by spoon feeding the reader with glances in the past but also retaining a lot of the major points until the very end.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here became an instant guilty pleasure! Perfect for the fans of the movies Mean Girls and Heathers.

There were so many events and turns in the story that I didn’t want it to end. But when it comes to the end it was definitely not what I expected which only adds to the overall genius of Flynn, managing to create and exert some sort of justice. Do I agree with the ending? Not really but that only goes to show how much I enjoyed Amb’s story.

After finishing the book, I had to take a moment to really consider the whirlwind I went through, reading this book in less than two days. One thing that did pop up in my mind was that I didn’t feel a difference between the Then Amb and Now Amb once she arrives at the reunion. The whole story is centred around this traumatic event that happens in the past, that fuels Amb with guilt however this doesn’t seem to change her, or at least very little. The character growth there would have had potential however I don’t know how this would have been able to fit in the overall story ARC.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here is now out and available to be ordered from your local indie bookshop (Support them, please! 😊) . This book is perfect for the fans of the movie Mean Girls or even the Heathers as it goes to show how cliques can be a very toxic and difficult environment to navigate playing on codependency of people on other people. This became an instant guilty pleasure for me and I can’t wait to hear what others think of it.

#TheGirlsAreAllSoNiceHere 💅

The Friend by Charlie Gallagher

Thanks to Avon UK Publicity Team for sending me an E-ARC in exchange of a honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What would you do if a stranger would present you with the opportunity to get revenge on the one person that ruined your life with no repercussion? Would you take the opportunity or would you question, why a stranger would give you this opportunity?

The Friend is a thrilling read, the start of a new series, in which themes of trust and the extent a person would go to obtain justice for their family collide. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but honestly the cover is something that let me down when I first saw it. Usually the cover is the first thing that captures the attention of a reader. This cover didn’t capture my attention at all. It felt generic and found myself wondering after reading the book why wouldn’t something more pragmatic from the story wouldn’t be featured on the cover. I know that cover design isn’t in the control of the author but I think that the cover would have fitted the genre and the story more if something more simplistic (a good example would be the black folder that is prominent at each scene) would have been incorporated on the cover. I can’t help but feel that the cover was a miss.

Charlie Gallagher is a name everyone should remember; The Friend is an exciting start to a new series that feels both fresh and already well established.

The story line is linear in the story, which can very easily slip into the boring side especially in this day and age when everyone is looking for something new. However what Gallagher managed to do is hide the linear story line behind strong characters which step to the forefront of the story. The multiple POV’s which weren’t usually the standard protagonist POV’s allows the readers to experience the events of a twisted game played by a stranger through a new lens.

I mentioned that the characterization is strong in The Friend. And I stand by that. Gallagher manages to breathe a breath of fresh air into them by making them unexpected. DI Joel Norris is the perfect example for this. As a crime series reader, I got so used of seeing ‘the-broken-detective’ trope that when Gallagher actually brings to the forefront a DI that is married and has a somewhat functional relationship with his wife, it feels totally unexpected and enjoyable, giving room for the flawed characters to sit into the normal people that actually go through the horrendous experience of meeting and playing the revenge game.

What is the revenge game you ask? Well it’s actually such a simple idea but so effective. You get yourself a stranger that promises you justice with no repercussion what-so-ever. Then you get a choice. Will you take justice into your own two hands or will you let justice take it’s own course? I don’t want to give away to much of the plot in this review because the excellence of this novel sits in the plot.

Charlie Gallagher is a name everyone should remember; The Friend is an exciting start to a new start to a series that feels both fresh but also already well established. I haven’t gotten yet the chance to read the Maddie Ives series or the Langthorne series but if they are anything close to The Friend then I can’t wait to dive into them when I start to feel my Gallagher withdrawal kick in.

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.