I’m over the moon to be on the blog tour for Cursed by Thomas Enger, the fourth instalment in the Henning Juul series!
When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has recently been grieving for her dead father, her husband discovers that her 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 murder of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests…
I’m writing this review, struggling to find the words to express quite how good this book is. WOW! I haven’t read the other books in the Henning Juul series so I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading – but I can say now, whole-heartedly, that this is one BRILLIANT book and I will be purchasing the rest of the series immediately!
“Daniel Schyman knew that people would talk about this day.”
This story opens with Daniel Schyman’s murder. Deep in the forest, he is shot in the chest and dies a quiet death with his beagle Lexie by his side. Enger’s beautifully written narrative is imbued with irresistible tension and heart-pounding, breathing-taking emotion that builds and builds with each sentence.
Nora Klemetsen, journalist at the Aftenposten, is visited by Hugo Refsdal, the husband of Hedda Hellberg – who left for a clinic in Italy after the death of her father but didn’t return. And when Hugo called the clinic, they told him she never booked in. Now, Hedda has been missing for just over a month and Hugo is desperate for help. Nora, an old friend of Hedda’s, is the only other person, aside from the police – who have assumed she committed suicide – he can think of to ask for help.
As Nora investigates the mystery of Hedda’s disappearance, her old partner, Henning Juul, is delving into the dark secrets that encompass the death of his and Nora’s son. Who set fire to his house and in doing so murdered young Jonas? Who is responsible? Who is at the centre of this mystery?
At the heart of this web of secrets, lies the groundbreaking truth. And it’s going to change everything…
Nora and Henning are just a brilliant investigative duo. Oh, I absolutely loved Nora – strong-willed, strong-minded. I loved following her through the chapters as she sieved through the clues in search of the pieces of the puzzle. I found myself marvelling at how much depth and character they both possess. Amazing work from Nordic Noir genius Thomas Enger.
Layered with darkness and deceit, Cursed will flood your mind with its twisted plot and engrossing narrative and prove impossible to remove. What a book! And the ending!!! Amazing!
A masterful depiction of what sits in the murky and sometimes frightening background of family lives.
Dark. Twisted. Engrossing.
If you would like to buy Cursed, here is the link
Beautifully translated by Kari Dickson!
And now I’m delighted to have Thomas Enger himself on my blog today to talk about his love for writing and writing music – thank you so much, Thomas for this! Your music – and writing – is so beautiful!
Writing and writing music
by Thomas Enger
As some of you may or may not know, I like to spend some time every now and then at my piano, composing the occasional song. I use it as a way of unwinding, of expressing what I feel on the inside, emotions I somehow find harder to put into words.
Here’s an example: I attended Iceland Noir last year, a fantastic festival in every possible way, and I just had a brilliant time; I just wished I could have stayed there longer to explore the beautiful island. The people I met were also great, and I left the island feeling a bit sad, though in a good way. When I arrived home I really wanted to just turn around and go back. There was a longing in me that I couldn’t quite articulate, so I sat down at my piano that very same evening, and I wrote a song called Tears of Ice. If you want to hear it, you can follow this link: https://soundcloud.com/thomasenger/tears-of-ice
To me that song really sums up the way I felt about the island and its people, and it felt very good to be able to express myself that way.
Music is, as you probably can imagine, very important to me. I listen to music all the time when I’m writing my books. I find it inspirational as well as a pleasant company. Every day I search for new music, and old, and I use it as soundtracks to my writing. I don’t know what I would do without it.
So what about writing books and writing music – is there any similarities between the two creative processes?
The question has been raised quite a few times as I have travelled across the world, talking about what I do, so I thought I’d just address it in a blog post as well.
Writing a novel is a very long process, at least for me. I can have an idea, a very brief scene, or a picture, or something I read in the paper or watch on the news that inspires me to start to think about a story, start to invent characters and put them into an environment. Usually it takes me a year, sometimes even more, from the starting point until the end product is done. It’s usually when I’m done with a first draft that I know what kind of story I have on my hands, which means that a book, for me, has a lot to do with trial and error.
Not so much when it comes to writing music.
A song can be somewhere between two and ten minutes long, depending of what kind of song it is, but here’s what usually happens when I write a song: I sit down at my piano, and I just let me fingers run over the keys arbitrarily and in a kind of improvising setting; I just play. Something. Whatever. And then all of a sudden I strike a chord that, together with another chord, sounds interesting. So I start to tinker around with those two chords a little bit, mix them up with other chords, and before I know it, I have eight bars of a song that I can play around with and develop some more. Some of the best songs I’ve ever written, has been made in about twenty minutes, from the first strike of lightening, to the end product.
If I really like it, and want to tinker around with it some more, then I go in and fine-tune every note and make sure that everything sounds the way I want it to, but basically music, for me, is all about instinct, not craft – like it is when I write my novels. Very rarely I have ideas that instantly come across as “good”. They just become good after I’ve spent days and nights and weeks and months working on them.
So why the hell don’t you play the piano more, you might say.
I’ve been asking myself that question quite a bit. Why spend 18 months on something when 20 minutes on the piano keys give you the same kind of gratification?
The simple answer to that is that I love to do both. So why shouldn’t I do both?
If you’re interested in hearing more of my music, then head over to my Soundcloud page. I have about 45 minutes’ worth of music in there. So check it out, and don’t be afraid to let me know what you think.
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.
Follow these fantastic bloggers on the blog tour!
Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan for my review copy and for including me on the blog tour!