Published: 15th February 2017 (Orenda Books)
When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Norway’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. When their lives are threatened, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history. Chilling, gritty and unputdownable, Cursed marks the return of one of Norway’s finest crime writers.
Cursed is actually the fourth book in the Henning Juul series but can most definitely be read as a standalone….as I have!! Enger has a way of keeping the read abreast with previous events therefore I didn’t feel like I was missing anything affecting this plot.
Henning Juul and his ex-wife, Nora are both journalists, their marriage ended after the death of their son in a terrible house fire when he was 6 which Henning blames himself for. Henning and Nora do remain on good terms though, incredible considering she is now in a relationship with Henning’s colleague and friend.
Cursed opens with the cold blood murder of a man walking his dog. It then flicks over to the disappearance of Hedda Hellberg would should have returned from a 3 week retreat in Italy – however she never actually got to Italy let alone return. Nora and Hedda used to be friends whilst they were studying so Nora has a personal interest in appealing for information. Eventually it becomes clear where the link between the prologue and Hedda’s disappearance.
Henning is also conducting an investigation of his own, into the house fire that killed their son, Jonas. He is so determined that he has taken leave from work to pursue unanswered questions.
Cursed is a fabulous example of Nordic Noir – it has a tightly woven plot which slowly (but surely!) builds up the tension as the story begins to unravel. This is a great crime novel written from the perspective of journalists with links into the police investigation. It is a nice perspective to read from as the journalists have a different agenda and therefore evoke a different response from the families/friends than the police would.
Cursed is a brilliantly written and seamlessly translated. I will now be catching up with the series and look forward to more translations.
About Thomas Enger
Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.