A gripping cold case: Jørn Lier Horst’s A Question of Guilt, tr. by Anne Bruce (Norway). PLUS the CWA Dagger shortlists are out!

Jørn Lier Horst, A Question of Guilt, tr. from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce (Penguin 2022)

First line: A fly landed on the rim of his water glass.

A Question of Guilt is the fourth novel in the ‘Cold Case Quartet’, which itself forms part of the larger, hugely successful ‘William Wisting’ series, first published in the UK by Sandstone Press.

I’ve been a fan of the ‘Wisting’ series from the start, and am always super-impressed by its consistency. No wobbles, no dips — just top-quality, utterly engrossing Norwegian police procedurals. Jørn Lier Horst was a police officer for many years, and his novels always give readers an excellent picture of the painstaking work involved in police investigations.

This cold case involves a potential miscarriage of justice. Seventeen-year-old Tone Vaterland was killed while cycling home from work in 1999, and her on-off boyfriend, Danny Momrak, was quickly convicted of the murder. Twenty years later Wisting receives an anonymous letter suggesting that the wrong man was sent to prison, which logically means the real murderer is still out there.

One aspect of this novel I particularly enjoyed was Wisting’s introduction to police techniques that weren’t around when he originally investigated the case. Although he trained in the 1970s and holds a senior position, he’s very open to learning from younger colleagues who are more technologically nimble. Clearly you can teach an old dog new tricks, which is great news for old dogs everywhere. But of course Wisting’s long experience is also a key asset when it comes to figuring out what’s going on. He knows to keep an open mind, as ‘when you reopen old cases, unexpected things always happen’. And they do.

Here’s a nice set of links for you: The first in Jørn Lier Horst’s ‘Cold Case Quartet’, The Katharina Code, won the 2019 Petrona Award, which was announced at CrimeFest here in the UK. Jørn Lier Horst also appeared at this year’s CrimeFest on a panel entitled ‘IT’S A FAIR COP: WRITING THE MODERN POLICE PROCEDURAL’. And CrimeFest is also where the 2022 CWA Dagger shortlists have just been revealed. You can see them all here: https://thecwa.co.uk/news/cwa-dagger-shortlists-announced

This is the shortlist for the CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER – a lovely, varied selection from five different countries:

  • Hotel Cartagena, Simone Buchholz, translated by Rachel Ward (Orenda Books/GERMANY)
  • Bullet Train, Kōtarō Isaka, translated by Sam Malissa (Penguin Random House; Harvill Secker/JAPAN)
  • Oxygen, Sacha Naspini, translated by Clarissa Botsford (Europa Editions/ITALY)
  • People Like Them, Samira Sedira, translated by Lara Vergnaud (Bloomsbury Publishing; Raven Books/FRANCE)
  • The Rabbit Factor, Antti Tuomainen translated by David Hackston (Orenda Books/FINLAND)

Congratulations to all!

2 thoughts on “A gripping cold case: Jørn Lier Horst’s A Question of Guilt, tr. by Anne Bruce (Norway). PLUS the CWA Dagger shortlists are out!

  1. Ooh, so many tempting Dagger competitors, Mrs. P.! I don’t envy the judges having to choose. It’s great to see you’ve profiled a Wisting novel, too. I really like the Wisting character, and what a great writing style, too – it suits the series, if that makes sense.

    • You’ve definitely put your finger on something there, Margot – it’s a very calm, measured style and really mirrors Wisting’s personality. As you probably know, Horst co-authors novels with Thomas Enger as well, and the style of those books is very different!

      A great year for the Daggers! The judges have a tricky task ahead of them…

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