When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, 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 Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.
Cursed by Thomas Enger was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 15 February 2017.
I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today, as part of the Blog Tour. He's talking to us about the books that are special to him and have made a lasting impression on his life.
My Life In Books ~ Thomas Enger
My interest for books, for real, started when I was somewhere in my teens. I can't pinpoint the exact moment or the exact book, but I remember distinctively how my father always wanted me to read the classics, but I spent months and years going through the motions, almost as if reading was a chore I had to do. So the classics really weren't for me. At least not when I was young.
At an early stage the novels starring the Hardy Boys were a natural choice, because they were suspenseful and, most importantly, short, which meant that I could easily plough my way through them without losing motivation as I went along. I remember reading a few Nancy Drew novels as well, but it somehow felt wrong to read about a young lady protagonist (I know, I was an idiot), so I stuck with the Hardy boys there for a while. Eventually I got around to novels by Agatha Christie and other well-known crime novelists that had been translated into Norwegian, and it was obvious to me that crime fiction was MY genre. Instead of spending three months reading a novel, I could go through a good crime novel in three days. Which made the genre choice really easy for me when the need and desire to write something for myself came along, but that's another story.
I read a lot of Alistair Maclean as well when I was young. Don't recall a single title, though, but I remember having a lot of fun reading them.
I don't remember specific novels that I particularly loved, either, at least not when I was young (I know, I'm 120 years old), but the novels and the writers that have shaped me as a writer, are more contemporary ones. To begin with it was novels from Scandinavia, I read Anne Holt and Karin Fossum, for instance, and I thought very highly of them, and then my focus shifted towards Sweden and HenningMankell. From him it changed back to Norway and Jo Nesbo, but after a while I wanted to explore more of the reading world, so I read a lot of JamesPatterson. I loved his action-packed short chapter novels, and the latter is a technique I've used to good effect myself, as it increases the reading pace.
I remember reading Michael Crichton as well with great intensity. Novels like Disclosure and the Jurassic Park books, which are completely different from each other, made me stay up late at night. He did have a way with storytelling that really made you want to read on and on and on.
The very first crime fiction novel that made me realise just how good crime novels can be, was One Step Behind by Henning Mankell. I remember reading that opening chapter with the young people out in the woods, celebrating or acting or whatever it was they were doing, and then all of a sudden they were just slaughtered and buried into the ground. It was a spectacular way of starting a novel, and I just wanted to read more. I bought this novel before a trip to Mexico, and I remember how I didn't want the plane to land, as I wasn't finished reading the book. It was just that good. So when I got back from Mexico, I bought and read everything else I could get my hands on from the great Swede.
So Henning Mankell was a big influence on me when I first started writing for myself. I mentioned Jo Nesbo briefly as well. I have read his Harry Hole series a few times, as he certainly raised the bar as far as Scandinavian crime fiction was concerned. The Snowman is my favourite. I have probably read that one four or five times, even as an adult. I love all of them, really.
Like I mentioned I tried to widen my horizon a bit during my late teens and early 20's, and as my ambitions to become a writer myself grew, I read everything I could find, and I tried to look at what the great ones did, to see if I could implement some of their methodology into my own. Harlan Coben became a great influence to me. Of everything I've read since my passion for crime fiction started, Coben has been my number one inspiration. I just love his super tight plots in combination with his humour. The books are both funny and frightening at the same time, and if you have read my first Henning Juul novel Burned, you will see that Henning tries to deal with his life, in part, by using humour. This I would never have done without having read Mr. Coben.
In later years I have become a huge fan of John Hart, who I'm actually going to meet in person in Oslo in March. I can't wait for that. I read Down River first, and I absolutely loved it. I tried to get hold of every other books he had written after that, and there's just no one better, in my opinion, when it comes to crime fiction prose. He just writes so beautifully. Which I'm going to tell him in March, hopefully without dying from starstruckness.
Thomas Enger ~ February 2017
Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndod) in 2009, which became aninternational 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.
Find out more at www.thomasenger.net
Follow him on Twitter @EngerThomas
Check out the rest of the stops on the #Cursed Blog Tour