Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Cursed, the fourth novel in the Henning Juul series by Thomas Enger published by Orenda Books. I have a great guest post from the author for you all and I also have my review at the end! First though, here is all the important bookish info that you’ll need…
About the book:
What secret would you kill to protect? 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.
Click HERE to get your copy!
About the author:
Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, 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.
About the translator:
KARI DICKSON read Scandinavian Studies at UCL and then went on to work in various theatres. While working in the theatre, she was asked to do literal translations of two Ibsen plays, which fuelled her interest and led to an MA in Translation at the University of Surrey. Having worked initially as a commercial translator, she now concentrates on literary translation, a good deal of which is crime fiction. Her translation of Roslund & Hellström’s Three Seconds won the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) International Dagger in 2011. She is also an occasional tutor in Norwegian language and literature, and translation at the University of Edinburgh.
Guest post from Thomas Enger:
The Henning Juul series – a brief summary
by Thomas Enger
Previously, on Henning J…
I’m kidding, of course. This is not a TV show, although I hope it will be in the not too distant future.
A few years have passed since the third novel in the Henning Juul series was released in the UK, so for those of you who have read the first, the second or the third novel, or if you haven’t read either Burned, Pierced or Scarred and you find yourself with a copy of Cursed in your hands, this is just a little something to help you understand the universe and the premise for the series a little bit better. I’m not going to spoil anything (hey, I still want you to read the first three, preferably in sequence), but it might be good to have a feel for what’s going on.
Let me begin by introducing you to Henning Juul. Henning is one of the best and brightest crime reporters in Norway, a man in his late 30’s who is deeply traumatised because he has lost his son Jonas (6) in a domestic fire, becoming physically scarred himself in the process. Before the fire he was separated from Jonas’ mother Nora Klemetsen, herself also a crime reporter, working in a different newspaper. After the fire she finalised the divorce, not because she didn’t love Henning anymore, but mainly because she couldn’t. There is just too much sorrow between them, and every time Nora looks into Henning’s eyes, she sees Jonas.
The series start two years after the tragic fire with Henning deciding to go back to work as a journalist for the online newspaper 123news. He does so very reluctantly, as he almost hasn’t been out of his apartment since Jonas died. The very same day he turns up at work, a young girl is found brutally murdered in the outskirts of Oslo. She has been stoned to death in what appears to be a sharia killing, and this becomes Henning’s first case back on the job. But it’s not easy being Henning, especially when he learns that he has to work with Iver Gundersen, Nora’s new boyfriend.
Burned, the first novel in the series, is basically about Henning returning to work and how he copes with trying to pick up the pieces of his life again while working a murder case. I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I say that Henning rediscovers his wits and realises that he still has what it takes to do a proper job as a journalist, and once that has been established, he feels ready to take on the biggest case of his life:
What really happened the day Jonas died?
Because of his skills as a journalist, Henning feels certain that someone set fire to his apartment, but why? As Henning took a knock to the head while jumping out from his burning apartment with Jonas in his arms, he doesn’t remember if he was working on something special in the days and weeks before the fire, if he was going to expose someone for doing something illegal or not. But now he is going to try to find out.
In Pierced, the second book, Henning is approached by a man who has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for a murder he claims he didn’t commit. This man tells Henning that he knows who was responsible for the fire, and that he will tell Henning who it was if Henning can help clear this man’s name.
Armed with all the motivation in the world, Henning dives into this man’s case, and while things take unexpected turns as he digs deeper both into the case and into his own past, it gets increasingly dangerous to be Henning. Someone out there knows that Henning is trying to stir things up from the past, and people with a lot of money and skills will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden.
Meanwhile, Henning’s estranged sister Trine, who works as Norway’s Secretary of Justice, finds herself in trouble. Someone is accusing her of having sexually harassed a young male politician, and the case gets a war like coverage in the Norwegian press.
Henning, who hasn’t spoken to his sister in years, for reasons unknown to him, feels that there’s something very wrong about the case. The coverage is very one-sided, and it only gets worse because Trine isn’t making a firm stand against the claims. Henning wants to help her, but he doesn’t know how, and he is certain that Trine doesn’t want his help, either. Something is definitely wrong in the Juul family, and it becomes even more evident to Henning as his heavily alcoholic mother treats him very badly and adores everything Trine does, even though Trine has broken off all contact with her mother as well as with Henning.
So this is basically the set up as Cursed begins: Henning finding himself wedged between Nora and Iver at work, he knows he is getting closer to the truth about the fire and that people are getting more and more desperate to end his search, and he knows that something is very wrong in the state of his own family. He also knows that this, for some reason, is related to the death of Henning’s own father back when Henning was only 15 years old.
There you have it, folks. Now get busy reading Cursed.
Oh, one more thing. The fifth and final novel in the series will be called Killed. Yep, that means that someone is going to die…
I had read the first Henning Juul book, Burned, before I started blogging so Thomas Enger was a familiar name to me. When I heard that he was being published by Orenda Books, I knew immediately that I was going to have to read Cursed as I’m such a huge fan of Scandi crime novels.
I hadn’t read books 2 or 3 before reading Cursed, so I went into it not really knowing what was happening, which is great if you ask me. Cursed was a really great read with a cracking plot. It’s made me eager to go back and read the books in order!
Henning Juul is an excellent character. After all the trauma and despair in his life, he is still working. And in Cursed, he is still trying to find out who was involved in his son’s tragic death. A parent’s pain when something happens to their child is raw and visceral, all consuming, and Enger has captured the emotions brilliantly.
I really enjoyed the storyline too. Following Nora, Henning’s ex-wife, as she tries to find her missing friend, Cursed goes deeper into family secrets and lies with every page. Nothing tears apart families faster than the unsaid, and Cursed demonstrates this really well.
Huge thanks, as always, to Karen at Orenda Books, and to Thomas Enger!
Make sure to keep up with the blog tour!