Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dregs

Dregs
Author: Jørn Lier Horst
Sandstone Press, 2011
320 pages

Out of Norway comes this very intricate novel featuring police investigator William Wisting, a descendant of a polar explorer. As far as I can tell, this is the sixth Wisting novel, but the first translated into English. I'm not sure why publishers translate series novels out of order, but I suppose that's a different blog entry. So let's focus on Dregs now.

Wisting is 51 years old and has been a police investigator for quite some time, apparently. He's feeling old and a bit burnt out, and is having some health issues that he refers to as the menopause. A recent widower, he lives in the Larvik area of southern Norway. The two main people in his life are his daughter Line, a journalist, and his girlfriend Suzanne. Line is visiting for a while to conduct some interviews with a handful of local ex-cons for a story she's writing on the prison system.

Suddenly, a shoe is found on the beach . . . with someone's left foot still in it. But that's not all. Over the course of a few days, other left feet & shoes will be found. They appear to belong to missing persons from the area, including a couple of men from the local nursing home. Then one of the nursing home's carers disappears.

As Wisting investigates, Line interviews a local man who recently got out of prison for killing a police officer some twenty years ago. He doesn't seem like a killer -- in fact, Line is sure he served time to cover up for someone else. But can she prove it? And will Wisting find out what's up with all the left feet?

Dregs is very clever. It addresses certain aspects of Norway's history, and examines an important social issue from both sides, without taking sides. Wisting is likeable, and I like the idea of father and daughter working together, so I hope future books are headed in that direction. There were several red herrings that had me going down wrong paths more than once. By 50% complete I was sure I knew who the killer was . . . but I was wrong.

I just wish I had the background on Wisting that I feel like I'm missing by not having read the books before Dregs. And I'd like to tell the author that 51 is not old. :)