19 December 2016

Review: THE CATALYST KILLING, Hans Olav Lahlum

  • first published in Norwegian 2012
  • firts published in UK by Pan Macmillan 2015
  • translated by Kari Dickson
  • 405 pages
  • ISBN 978-0-230-76955-7
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia)

1970. Inspector Kolbjørn Kristiansen, known as K2, witnesses a young woman desperately trying to catch a tram only to have the doors close before her face. The next time he sees her, she is dead - her body found between the tram tracks. It seems she has been shot . . .

As K2 begins to investigate, with the inestimable help of his precocious assistant Patricia, he discovers that the whole affair started two years earlier, when a group of politically active young people set out on a walking tour in Valdres. One night, it seems, the charismatic leader Falko Reinhardt vanished. This latest victim was Reinhardt's girlfriend.

It doesn't take K2 long to realise that to solve the present-day murder he must go back in time, perhaps further than 1968. But as he and Patricia begin to unravel the events behind this mystery, the detective fails to notice that his young assistant has her own problems to face. . 

My take

As he did with THE SATELLITE PEOPLE Lahlum has explored a theory about the cause of homicide, i.e. that often a first killing sets off a chain reaction, and is the catalyst for further killings.

The real brains behind investigator K2 is without doubt his young assistant Patricia. She prompts him with questions to ask, lines of enquiry to take, and people to investigate. However the end result of this is that often the reader is also playing catch up, and we do not have the full facts, so it is very hard for us to solve any of the mysteries. I eventually found this quite frustrating. It is a method which involves K2 chasing a number of red herrings, often at great length, only to find that track is a dead end. Patricia meanwhile sits smugly in her wheel chair waiting for K2 to come to the right conclusion.

It is obviously a carefully plotted novel, and the political setting in 1970 would mean a lot more to Norwegian readers.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

1 comment:

noirencyclopedia said...

often the reader is also playing catch up, and we do not have the full facts, so it is very hard for us to solve any of the mysteries

Interesting. I have a very similar complaint about the couple of Camilla Läckberg novels I've read, with the result that I plan not to read any more of them. It is not clever or cute, just bad and irritating plotting, to hide from the reader information that the protagonists possess.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin