Burnedby Thomas Enger, Charlotte Barslund
Uncovering class divisions, racial conflicts, and tangled emotions, this gritty, shocking
novel of suspense heralds the arrival of a major new talent.
Henning Juul is a veteran investigative crime reporter in Oslo, Norway. A horrific fire killed his six-year-old son, cut scars across his face, and ended his marriage, and on his first/b>/b>/b>
Uncovering class divisions, racial conflicts, and tangled emotions, this gritty, shocking
novel of suspense heralds the arrival of a major new talent.
Henning Juul is a veteran investigative crime reporter in Oslo, Norway. A horrific fire killed his six-year-old son, cut scars across his face, and ended his marriage, and on his first day back at the job after the terrible tragedy a body is discovered in one of the city’s public parks. A beautiful female college student has been stoned to death and buried up to her neck, her body left bloody and exposed. The brutality of the crime shakes the whole country, but despite his own recent trauma – and the fact that his ex-wife’s new boyfriend is also on the case - Henning is given the assignment. When the victim’s boyfriend, a Pakistani native, is arrested, Henning feels certain the man is innocent. This was not simply a Middle Eastern-style honor killing in the face of adultery – it was a far more complicated gesture, and one that will drag Henning into a darkness he’s never dreamed of.
“This promises to be a crime fiction series worth watching.” —Library Journal
“The careful revealing of clues, the clever twists, and the development of Henning Juul and the supporting characters make this a very promising start to a new series.” —Suspense Magazine
“Suspenseful, dark, and gritty, this is a must-read." —Booklist
“A gripping narrative that begs comparison to Stieg Larsson.” —Bookpage
“The name is Thomas Enger. Make sure you remember it, because he’s a man about to join the ranks of the best crime novel writers of the Nordic countries ... and he has achieved something quite exceptional already with his first novel, Burned ... It’s one of the best crime novels this reviewer has read for a long time, in a language that sparkles and gleams in strong images and a tempo that almost makes you forget to draw breath.” — Kristeligt Dagblad
“Thomas Enger has written a solid and effective crime novel." —Jyllandsposten Posten
“It’s an excellent debut, the main character and his fate is brilliantly drawn." —Weekendavisen, Denmark
“Impressive new Norwegian thriller" —Vejle Amts Folkeblad
“Burned is cleverly worked out, exciting, surprising." —Bogblogger (blog)
“It’s very rare to be presented with a thriller in which the language and the empathy is top notch, so that your eyes are truly opened wide.” — Børsen
"An excellent read...fascinating." —Journey of a Bookseller (blog)
“An intriguing Norwegian whodunit." —Genre Go Round (blog)
“A likeable, if wounded, protagonist made this a good read, and if you like an intriguing mystery that doesn’t waste time on florid prose, you’ll enjoy Burned!” My Bookish Ways (blog)
“Unforgettable…the interweaving stories were simply engrossing. A masterful debut thriller from an author who happens to be Scandinavian.” —Misfit Salon (blog)
The latest in the endless series of claimants to Stieg Larsson's throne brings a suitably damaged investigative journalist a new case.
Two years after someone set fire to his home, killing his young son, memorably scarring his own face and torpedoing his marriage to fellow reporter Nora Klemetsen, Henning Juul is finally ready to return to his job at 123news. Or maybe not quite ready, since Heidi Kjus, one of the dozens of interns he trained, is now his boss, and Iver Gundersen, the newly poached reporter he's been paired with is Nora's boyfriend. Henriette Hagerup, the victim whose murder 123news, along with everyone else in Norway, is investigating, was stoned to death, her hand chopped off. Henning's despised former schoolmate, DI Bjarne Brogeland of the Oslo police, assumes it's an honor killing and goes after Henriette's lover, cabdriver Mahmoud Marhoni, who obligingly answers his knock on the door by setting fire to his computer and leaping out his apartment window. But Henning, aided by a mysterious cyber-informant he knows only as "6tiermes7," sees more deeply into the case. He learns Henriette had been jolted into submission by a stun gun before someone cast the first stone. He learns that under the supervision of Yngve Foldvik, of the Westerdals School of Communication, Henriette had been working with her friend Anette Skoppum on a film to be calledA Sharia Caste.And once he reads Henriette's screenplay, he sees a new dimension of the case the police have no inkling of. But witnessing a second murder and realizing the murderer has seen him too leave Henning in no shape to do his best work.
Though it hits as many hot buttons as aCosmopolitanquiz, Enger's debut mystery is tangled, lumpy and forgettable. The keeper here is Henning, whom the fadeout launches toward a sequel.
Read an Excerpt
Her blond curls are soaked in blood.
The ground has opened up and tried to swallow her. Only her head and torso are visible. Her rigid body is propped up by the damp earth; she looks like a single long-stemmed red rose. Blood has trickled down her back in thin, elongated lines, like tears on a melancholic cheek. Her naked back resembles an abstract painting.
He takes hesitant steps inside the tent, glancing from side to side. Turn around, he tells himself. This has nothing to do with you. Just turn around, go back outside, go home, and forget what you’ve seen. But he can’t. How can he?
Only the swishing branches of the trees reply. He takes a few more steps. The air is suffocating and clammy. The smell reminds him of something. But what?
The tent wasn’t there yesterday. To someone like him, who walks his dog every day on Ekeberg Common, the sight of the large white tent was irresistible. The strange location. He just had to look inside.
If only he could have stopped himself.
Her hand isn’t attached. It’s lying, severed, next to her arm as though it has come undone at her wrist. Her head slumps toward one shoulder. He looks at them again, the blond curls. Random patches of matted red hair make it look like a wig.
He edges up to the young woman, but stops abruptly, hyperventilating to the point where his breathing stops. His stomach muscles knot and prepare to expel the coffee and banana he had for breakfast, but he suppresses the reflex. He backs away, carefully, blinking, before he takes another look at her.
One eye is dangling from its socket. Her nose is squashed flat and seems to have disappeared into her skull. Her jaw is dented and covered with purple bruises and cuts. Thick black blood has gushed from a hole in her forehead, down into her eyes and across the bridge of what remains of her nose. One tooth hangs from a thread of coagulated blood inside her lower lip. Several teeth are scattered in the grass in front of the woman who once had a face.
The last thing Thorbjørn Skagestad remembers, before staggering out of the tent, is the nail varnish on her fingers. Blood red.
Just like the heavy stones lying around her.
Henning Juul doesn’t know why he sits here. In this particular spot. The crude seating, let into the hillside, is hard. Rough and raw. Painful. And yet he always sits here. In the exact same spot. Deadly nightshade grows between the seating which slopes up toward Dælenenga Club House. Bumblebees buzz eagerly around the poisonous berries. The planks are damp. He can feel it in his backside. He should probably change his trousers when he gets home, but he knows he won’t bother.
Henning used to come here to smoke. He no longer smokes. Nothing to do with good health or common sense. His mother has smoker’s lungs, but that’s not what stops him. He wishes desperately he could smoke. Slim white friends, always happy to see you, though they never stay for long, sadly. But he can’t, he just can’t.
There are people around, but nobody sits next to him. A soccer mum down by the artificial turf looks up at him. She quickly averts her eyes. He is used to people looking at him while pretending they aren’t. He knows they wonder who he is, what has happened to him, and why he sits there. But no one ever asks. No one dares.
He doesn’t blame them.
He gets up to leave when the sun starts to go down. He is dragging one leg. The doctors have told him he should try to walk as naturally as possible, but he can’t manage it. It hurts too much. Or perhaps it doesn’t hurt enough.
He knows what pain is.
He shuffles to Birkelunden Park, past the recently restored pavilion with its new roof. A gull cries out. There are plenty of gulls in Birkelunden Park. He hates gulls. But he likes the park.
Still limping, he passes horizontal lovers, naked midriffs, foaming cans of beer, and wafts of smoke from barbecues burning themselves out. An old man frowns in concentration before throwing a metal ball toward a cluster of other metal balls on the gravel where, for once, children have left the bronze statue of a horse alone. The man misses. He only ever misses.
You and I, Henning thinks, we’ve a lot in common.
The first drop of rain falls as he turns into Seilduksgate. A few steps later, he leaves behind the bustle of Grünerløkka. He doesn’t like noise. He doesn’t like Chelsea Football Club or traffic wardens, either, but there is not a lot he can do about it. There are plenty of traffic wardens in Seilduksgate. He doesn’t know if any of them support Chelsea. But Seilduksgate is his street.
He likes Seilduksgate.
With the rain spitting on his head, he walks west toward the setting sun above the Old Sail Loft, from which the street takes its name. He lets the drops fall on him and squints to make out the contours of an object in front. A gigantic yellow crane soars toward the sky. It has been there for ever. The clouds behind him are still gray.
Henning approaches the junction where Markvei has priority from the right, and he thinks that everything might be different tomorrow. He doesn’t know if it’s an original thought or whether someone has planted it inside his head. Possibly nothing will change. Perhaps only voices and sounds will be different. Someone might shout. Someone might whisper.
Perhaps everything will be different. Or nothing. And within that tension is a world turned upside down. Do I still belong in it, he wonders? Is there room for me? Am I strong enough to unlock the words, the memories, and the thoughts which I know are buried deep inside me?
He doesn’t know.
There is a lot he doesn’t know.
He lets himself into the flat after climbing three long flights of stairs where the dust floats above the ingrained dirt in the woodwork. An appropriate transition to his home. He lives in a dump. He prefers it that way. He doesn’t think he deserves a large hallway, closets the size of shopping centers, a kitchen whose cupboards and drawers look like a freshly watered ice rink, self-cleaning white goods, delicate floors inviting you to slow dance, walls covered with classics and reference books; nor does he deserve a designer clock, a Lilia block candleholder from Georg Jensen, or a bedspread made from the foreskins of hummingbirds. All he needs is a single mattress, a fridge, and somewhere to sit down when the darkness creeps in. Because inevitably it does.
Every time he closes the front door behind him, he gets the feeling that something is amiss. His breathing quickens, he feels hot all over, his palms grow sweaty. There is a stepladder to the right, just inside the hall. He takes the stepladder, climbs it, and locates the Clas Ohlson bag on the old green hat rack. He takes out a box of batteries, reaches for the smoke alarm, eases out the battery, and replaces it with a fresh one.
He tests it to make sure it works.
When his breathing has returned to normal, he climbs down. He has learned to like smoke alarms. He likes them so much that he has eight.
© 2010 Gyldendal Norsk Forlag
Meet the Author
Thomas Enger is a former journalist and a music composer. He lives in Oslo, Norway.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Enger carefully builds Henning Juul as the main character in this novel, revealing his background, history and behaviors one part at a time. These characteristics are cunningly woven into the story, making for a detective novel where tweaks and twists in the plot come unexpected and naturally at the same time. The plot has enough twists to keep the book interesting until the very last page, even when the culprit has been unveiled. No artificial moves or jumps in the plot, the story logic is correct and intriguing. I enjoyed reading the book, and would look forward to next publications.
In 2007 Oslo, the arsonist set the home of investigative reporter Henning Juul ablaze. Henning survived with sever burns to his face and other body parts while his young son Jonas died in the inferno. His marriage to reporter Nora Klemetsen also went up in smoke. Unable to work Henning takes a two year hiatus before returning to work at 123news. His current boss Heidi Kjus was one of the many journalists he mentored. She assigns him to work with Iver Gundersen, who is stepping out with Nora, on the homicide of twentyish Henriette Hagerup. The victim was found inside a tent on Ekeberg Common where she was partially interred, her body battered and a hand severed. OPD Detective Investigator Bjarne Brogeland focuses on the Westerdals School of Communication film student's Pakistani boyfriend Mahmoud Marhoni with the motive being a sharia honor kill as her texting implies she was dating someone else and he tried to flee from the cops. The virtual tips from 6tiermes7 Juul centers his inquiry on Henriette's screenplay A Sharia Caste co-written with Anette Skoppum. This is an intriguing Norwegian whodunit as the motive is the key to solving the case. All the circumstantial evidence points to a Sharia kill by her boyfriend, but Juul helped by an on line informant looks at the screenplay as the cause. Juul's mental state surfaces when he and the killer witness one another while the latter murders again. Although the mystery contains too many headline issues especially involving Muslim expatriates living in Denmark, readers will root for Burned out Juul to solve the homicide. Harriet Klausner
Book Title: "Burned" Author: Thomas Enger Published By: Atria Books Age Recommended: 18 + Reviewed By: Kitty Bullard Raven Rating: 5 Review: A mystery of horrific intensity, “Burned” grabs you from the first page and refuses to let go. When a young woman is found buried in the earth from her waist down and has been the victim of a ritualistic stoning, Henning Juul is called in to investigate. The plot continues to thicken as he uncovers what is suspected to be a religious act only to find out it goes much deeper. This novel has it all, from struggles with racism, to the secret truth you’ll be shocked to learn what is really going on and who the ultimate culprit is. I definitely recommend this novel, though a word of warning; it does contain some dark and horrific conscious imagery.