Book Review: Stigma, Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger

Book Review: StigmaBlix and Ramm Book 4, Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, translated by Megan Turney

Stigma, Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger

Mystery: StigmaBlix and Ramm Book 4, Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, translated by Megan Turney


Alexander Blix is facing years in prison. A disgraced former detective, he was convicted of killing the man who murdered his daughter. The defense argued that it was an appropriate use of force. The killer was holding a gun to a civilian’s head and did not obey Blix’s orders to surrender. The courts, though, believed he was bent on revenge and that his reasons for killing the man were personal, not professional.


Blix now lives behind the gray walls of a maximum security prison. He is being punished for a crime, but nothing compares to the punishment he is giving himself. He had promised his daughter that he would always protect her, always be there for her when she needed him. In her time of greatest need, though, Blix was away on police business. He may do his time, but he will never forgive himself.


One day, Blix’s former chief and one-time best friend visits him in prison. A killer has escaped from a German prison. He went to his childhood home, killed his mother and stole her car and cash, and headed north. In his prison cell, he left behind some papers. The only legible writing on them was a name, the name of someone in prison with Blix. He may be locked up, he may have no Internet or cell phone or computer or gun or any of the other tools of police work. Still, he is a detective and cannot resist the challenge.


Blix’s friend, the journalist Emma Ramm, is pursuing the story of the killer herself. Traveling to a small town outside of Oslo, a town the killer had visited when he was a teenager, she tries to learn everything she can about this man. What had happened in this town that made him want to return? Had anyone known him when he was there? Did he make an impression on anyone that might explain his risky flight across borders into Norway?


What she finds is that secrets kept for decades are still unwilling to see the light. Police can be dangerous to the keepers of those secrets, but a journalist seeking to reveal those secrets to the entire country? There are some who would kill to keep things hidden.


Ramm and Blix make an intriguing and fascinating pair. The hard charging journalist, pursuing the story wherever it takes her, even if it puts her in danger. The broken detective, filled with guilt and regret, devastated by loss, yet without equal in solving cases. He is almost old enough to be Ramm’s father, indeed, she thinks of him as a father figure. She reminds him in many ways of his daughter, The affection and respect each has for the other gives strength to their pursuit of their goals. Usually, those goals are aligned: finding a killer is a pretty big story. When they differ, though, the trust they have in each other stands the test. Perhaps the books are leading to a less platonic relationship between the two, perhaps they are not. Being slightly older than Blix is, I enjoy the relationship they have very much. I hope the younger women that I know through work, community activities, and other places see me in the way that Ramm sees Blix.


As is typical, Megan Tunney’s translation is a joy. Any successful translation is much more than just going word for word and literally translating the text. It is a collaboration between people, one of whom must keep her feet in both the language and culture of Norway and the language and culture of an English-speaking country. Tunney may not have written the original text, but her work brings out the best of what these authors hope to tell.


There may be many pieces to this puzzle, but the one thing that stood out to me (and has in previous books of the series) is how some crimes take decades to come to fruition. Not that people had been planning these things for years, but that wounds opened years before can fester, infecting a life, eventually erupting in ways that can’t be anticipated. Ignoring or minimizing the pain of another can result in that pain hurting others.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Stigma, provided so we could give an honest review. Honestly, though, Orenda Publishing does such an amazing job with every book they publish, I try to review every one of them that I can. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.


Stigma, Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger

Book Review: StigmaBlix and Ramm Book 4, Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, translated by Megan Turney

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