Reviewed by Louise Wykes
When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, 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 murder 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 Norway's wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. When their lives are threatened, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.
Thanks to the fabulous publishers at Orenda I am enjoying my fictional journey through the Nordic countries exploring the wide and varied genre of Nordic Noir. This time Cursed has taken me to the unfamiliar country of Norway which seems to hide as many dark and unsettling secrets as the other Nordic countries.
The prologue opens in Sweden where an elderly man is murdered and it is this incident that lays the foundation for the rest of the novel. Nora Klemetsen is a journalist who is going through a quiet patch at work when she is asked by the husband of a former college friend of Nora’s, Hedda Hellberg to investigate his wife’s sudden and mysterious disappearance. Nora’s interest is piqued and she soon finds herself being caught up in mysterious and tangled web of lies, deceit and family secrets.
At the same time, her ex-husband Henning Juul, also a journalist, is currently taking some leave from work after still suffering from the loss of his and Nora’s son in a house fire. Juul is convinced the fire was no accident and was actually meant to be an attempt on his own life and not his son’s. Juul takes his journalistic experience to try and solve the mystery of who actually started or ordered the fire to be started. As Juul’s life becomes increasingly in danger, it is soon clear that his own investigation may be linked to that of Nora’s.
I really enjoyed this thriller as I liked the fact that the investigation wasn’t predominantly operated by the police. Of course they were involved but the focus of the novel was Henning and Nora and their own individual skills that enable them to solve what ends up a very complicated and twisted mystery.
I felt this book was much more character driven than other Nordic Noir books I’ve read and I really enjoyed the intense emotional connection I felt to the two main characters especially as they have quite a complicated relationship which really touched my heart.
I have already bought the previous books in this series to find out more about Henning and Nora’s background and if you’re after an intense, emotional rollercoaster of a read I can highly recommend this gem of a thriller.