The first in a superb new series from phenomenal author Geir Tangen, Requiem strikes a deliciously chilling chord.
“A magnificent crime debut from Norway’s biggest crime blogger. Well-composed, well-written, funny, and brutal. In short: a great crime novel, with a few bold, unexpected twists at the end.” –Bok, Five Stars (Norway)
"A great and thrilling crime novel."–Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark)
“There are crime novels you simply have to read. Geir Tangen is a master in his own right.” –Fyens Stiftstidene (Denmark)
Journalist Viljar Gudmundsson is no stranger to chilling stories. So when he receives an anonymous e-mail in which the writer proclaims their intention to execute a woman for her unpunished crimes, he thinks the whole thing is a bad joke. Such things happen only in bad crime novels, after all. But the next day, the body of a woman is found, and Viljar receives a second e-mail with another verdict from this self-proclaimed judge, jury, and executioner. Viljar joins forces with Investigator Lotte Skeisvoll, who quickly realizes that the murderer is playing a deadly game with them. The clues are all pointing in the same direction, and the murders are strangely familiar...
About the Author
Geir Tangen was born in 1970 in Øystese, Norway. He runs Norway’s biggest crime book blog – Bokbloggeir.com, with over 170,000 readers – where he’s reviewed crime novels and thrillers since 2012.
Requiem is Geir Tangen’s debut novel, first self-published in January 2016. One month later, after a rave reception, one of Norway’s biggest and most prestigious publishers, Gyldendal, pre-empted the rights to Requiem and to Heartbreaker, the next book in the series. Tangen lives in Haugesund, Norway.
Read an Excerpt
Haugesund News Friday morning, August 27, 2010
On the morning four days before the light went out, the journalist Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson stood proudly in the conference room, enjoying the atmosphere around him. Big smiles, hungry eyes, and arrogant laughter filled the room. This was how things should be.
"My God, Viljar! I don't know what you're giving your sources, but I want some of it. We're talking the Minister of Transport here. Pinned bare-assed to the wall with a nail gun. I'd gladly give half my liver to get my name on a story like that."
Although the arts reporter Henrik Thomsen was three heads taller than his colleague, his height did not noticeably add to his intelligence. Viljar looked up at him and could see remnants of caked sugar in his ample mustache.
"Believe me, Thomsen, you wouldn't have survived. There's a reason that you review concerts while I hunt predators in the corridors of power."
Viljar moved away from the burly man and stood at the outer edge of the room. Let the light shine on him. He deserved it. This was his hour. The moment when everyone's eyes were directed at him in respect and admiration. What he had done was unique in the 115-year history of the newspaper. To the other journalists and editors, the article represented months of ambitious investigative journalism. If that wasn't the whole truth, Viljar didn't care. This was his specialty. If the article came after a hundred hours of overtime or fell into his hands like a feather from the sky, it was all the same to him. He was sitting on a scoop, and he had the power of words.
What he wrote was the truth. That was how it was in Haugesund. Again and again, he had knocked the abusers of power down from their pedestals. As far as Haugesund News was concerned, a granite obelisk dedicated to Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson could be raised on the site of the paper's new office building, currently under construction.
The story he had presented to the news editors that morning had all the necessary elements for nationwide saturation coverage. That condition arises when all the major news organizations cover the same dramatic event at the same time, and the coverage is so extensive that it overshadows everything else in the media. Politics, abuse of power, celebrities, crime, and sex. All this in one and the same story, and it was little Haugesund News that was sitting on it. They had Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson, which gave them enough credibility to be heard in the national press.
At the age of thirty-seven, Viljar had long since acquired a reputation as one of the country's most trustworthy voices in the media. Job offers from the major media houses landed regularly in his in-box, but he ignored them. He was a weekend dad, and couldn't bear the thought of commuting to Oslo during the week. His twelve-year-old son, Alexander, lived here in Haugesund, and no job in the world could make him sacrifice the times they had together. Besides, there was no escaping the fact that Viljar liked to be comfortable. At the regional newspaper, he had freedom. He came and went as he pleased. He wrote the stories that suited him best, and said no to assignments he considered pointless. He played by his own rules, a free soul in a free landscape. He dictated the agenda. He was the house anarchist, following his own impulses to the great despair, and delight, of Editor-in-chief Johan Øveraas.
When the story about Hermann Eliassen, the Minister of Transport and Communications, showed up a few days earlier, Viljar had long been telling his superiors that he was working on a gigantic story of unbelievable dimensions. Nonsense, of course. In reality he'd spent most of his workdays planning a weekend in London with Alexander. Fortunately, the departure had worked out to be on the very day he'd been able to present the Minister of Transport's head on a platter for the editors.
"People ... Listen to me for just a moment!"
Editor-in-chief Johan Øveraas guided Viljar firmly up to a corner of the room where the other journalists could gather around. Then he took firm hold on his own hips, and Viljar observed with fascination that the editor's hands actually disappeared into his love handles.
"This story will hit the media elite in Oslo like a pint of Guinness in a bubbling champagne party. This story will be a damned wet blanket on Hermann Eliassen's chorus of admirers. We in the local press who know the guy have waited a long time to see him dangling. Bloody well done, Viljar."
The applause rang out in the small space, and Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson took plenty of time to enjoy the moment.
This was his story. He was invincible in this power play. The truth was his steadfast squire, and no one could poke holes in this story.
Outside, the wind was rustling the old oak trees next to Lillesund School. Exhausted leaves clung tightly to the sap of summer a little while longer. Unlike the journalists inside, the trees knew that everything comes to an end. The wind will strip the trees bare in violent gusts, spitting out the withered jewelry at a final resting place.
Seventeen-year-old Jonas and his lover were on a farmyard a dozen kilometers farther south. Without knowing it, through their impassioned looks and caresses, they had sealed not only their own fate, but Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson's too, the man who at that very moment was receiving a final pat on the back from his editor.
"Incredibly well done, Viljar. Go to London. Turn off your cell phone. Have a good time with your son. You deserve this. We'll take the story from here. In four days you'll be back. I can promise you a strong tailwind on the return trip, because here it will be very windy."
Viljar smiled slyly as he packed the most important things into his duffel bag. He looked through the photo material that would be used in the story on Eliassen one last time, and sent it on to the desk. The editor was still standing beside him when he was finished.
Viljar looked up at Øveraas with the customary mischievous gleam in his eye. "Windy? Isn't it always windy here in Haugesund?"CHAPTER 2
Four days later Stemmen, HaugesundTuesday evening, August 31, 2010
Threatening clouds swept across the sky. Like a dark omen, they demanded their place in the blue hour between day and night. One moment the waters of Eivindsvatnet were bathed in a magical shimmer, and the next they were wrapped in a black, suffocating carpet of sulfurous air, accompanied by thunderclaps and violent downpours.
Jonas Ferkingstad was standing out on a small bridge known as Stemmen, built in 1907 over the dams at the entry to the recreation area around Eivindsvatnet. The spindly figure peered searchingly out over the edge.
His shoulder-length blond hair was plastered to his forehead, and ice-blue eyes were focused on an imaginary point out in space. In small flashes of light, when the clouds occasionally parted, he could see down over the stream on the lower side of the dams. From the bridge where he was standing down to the bottom of the rock-covered slope was perhaps ten meters. A thin, soaking-wet, burgundy-red cotton shirt was glued to his chest. His body was shaking. He cast quick glances up the hill, toward the walking path under Skjoldavegen, but mostly he looked out into emptiness.
Jonas straightened up when he noticed the person who came walking toward him. It was impossible to see the figure clearly, but Jonas knew who it was. For the longest time he'd had a slight hope that he could avoid having this reckoning. No denial or lying was possible here. No treachery and betrayal. Two people who both knew the truth, meeting alone. Neither of them needed to hide behind façades and masquerades.
For a long time they stood observing each other from a distance. The autumn wind whipped up crests of foam on the water, and another bolt of lightning slashed the sky. In the quick flash of cold light they saw each other. Naked. Unprotected. Alone. The next moment the darkness returned, and the thunderclap made the concrete bridge vibrate. Jonas stood waiting with slumped shoulders. He looked up at the person before him. Jonas longed to creep into that other person's arms. Just be there in that secure embrace and act as if nothing had happened. That it all was just a fata morgana. Unreal. Something that would disappear if you just blinked a few times. But it wasn't like that. Nothing could be made undone.
They stood like that for a short time while the water ran off them. Mutual powerlessness was reflected in their faces. Nothing was said, but after a while the other person reached out toward Jonas, who gasped for breath as he let himself be embraced. No words could describe the heartfelt sensation he felt then and there. Not happiness. Not relief, but something else. Something deep inside him that made him let go. All the pent- up feelings exploded like a geyser. Jonas could hear himself bawling against the chest of the person who was holding him, but he barely noticed it. Now it had to come out, all the pain.
Over the other person's shoulder Jonas sensed a shadow moving by the little boathouse. Two red kayaks that were lying along the wall of the boathouse clung to each other against the wind. He had seen them out on the water the past few days, but could not quite understand why anyone would want to be out in such weather.
The brief distraction made him inattentive. The embrace had become noticeably tighter, as if the other person was trying to squeeze the air out of him. Jonas tried to tear himself loose from the iron grip, but he didn't want to escape completely yet. Small sobs were still felt in his belly. Desperate, small whimpers that testified to what he had done. Jonas knew it was his fault. His and his alone.
The force in the arms holding Jonas was primal. Inhuman. His arms remained hanging limply down, only the strength of the other person kept his legs from folding up under him. Jonas was empty. He was a thin, fragile shell incapable of putting up resistance. He realized that this was a battle. A battle of life and death. It now occurred to him that the other person had not embraced him to give him comfort and support. Jonas gathered his last energy and tore himself loose from the paralyzing grip. He stared at his opponent with new eyes. He braced himself, but could feel how weak his body was.
Suddenly the scene on the bridge changed. A new flash of light. Another thunderclap. The larger of the two figures opened its mouth to scream, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper.
With calm movements one person took a powerful hold of the other, and in one quick motion a body was raised up from the ground and tipped over the railing of the bridge. The scream that followed cut into the ravine as the body fell down into the abyss. Then came silence. Even the raindrops fell soundlessly when it was all over.CHAPTER 3
Four years later Media House Haugesund NewsMonday morning, October 13, 2014
A solitary line flickered on the computer screen. Text: Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson. He blinked. His eyes were stinging. An hour of the workday was already history, but the only thing Viljar had accomplished was to write his name.
He raised his eyes and looked out toward Karmsundsgata: a tableau of cars in rain and mist. The architects behind the new media building in Haugesund must have thought the floor-to-ceiling windows would be inspiration for the worker ants in the open office landscape. The view, however, was just as depressing as listening to Metallica's Black Album played on a pan flute.
The space in the media building was brand new, but ten years in the same news organization had slowly bled the energy from the Icelander Gudmundsson. The joy of uncovering something that might make big headlines in the national media crumbled into an endless slog, where one day's sensation is yesterday's news. Nothing fades faster than newsprint.
He tried to straighten his back. Barely past forty and already crippled by endless hours in front of keyboard and screen. He looked around and noticed that he was the only one not working. The tapping from neighboring keyboards hammered in his ear canals like a thousand cockroaches across a parquet floor. The buzz of the voices of the other journalists irritated him to no end. Removing the old offices with doors that closed and replacing them with an open-office anthill was systematized cruelty.
Besides the quiet, the office chair was what Viljar missed most. The deep, sturdy design he'd had at his old desk was the kind you could lean back in. Complete support for your whole back. On a quiet day there was no problem taking a power nap if you wanted to. The new chairs were short and had the seat back shoved in against your lumbar region, creating the unpleasant sensation of a prolonged prostate exam.
Viljar exchanged a tasteless piece of nicotine gum for a pouch of snus and looked around again. The picture was the same, as always. Cubicle upon cubicle of workstations in groups of four, only separated by four-foot-high white blocks with a royal blue front, which mostly resembled overgrown external hard drives. The only break was a group of uncommonly ugly green sofas that sat like a bar setup in the middle of the space.
Editor-in-chief Johan Øveraas was standing by the sofas. Viljar observed him and noted with satisfaction that the boss was closer to retirement than he would ever get to heaven. Øveraas was everything a good middle manager ought to be in a corporate group like Orkla Media: unscrupulous, coldhearted, and morally stunted, but 100 percent loyal to management.
Øveraas noticed the eye contact and lumbered over to Viljar's little cubicle. "Bloody slacker! Not a damned day goes by without you sponging a few hours in the middle of the workday. Do you think I'm a complete idiot? Don't you think I see when people come and go in this building?"
Øveraas blew himself up like a balloonfish, but it was mostly talk. Viljar knew perfectly well what the editor was referring to. On Friday Viljar had left work with no explanation.
"Do I have to scratch you in a certain place to get you to react, or can you please answer me when I'm talking to you?"
His eyes were bulging and his complexion changed to indigo.
Viljar thought that the article Øveraas assigned to him on Friday would be taken care of by the weekend shift, but that wasn't the case this time. At the Monday morning meeting, the story had turned up again on his desk like a bad penny, and he had a deadline of noon to deliver.
In other words, he had three hours in which to write a main story of twelve hundred words, and a six-hundred-word sidebar on the Mental Health Association, which was dissatisfied with the treatment they got in their endless journey between emergency room, hospital, general practitioner, and psychiatry. This time they screamed and warned that seriously mentally ill individuals were wandering around the city because they were never caught up by the system.
Viljar looked at the editor indulgently. It was best to humor him so that he didn't explode like a rabid lemming. "Relax! I had a stomachache. Didn't want to infect the whole office here with the smell of shit. I'm working on the article now."
Øveraas stood there a few more seconds before in his customary manner he took his anger out on something material. This time it was two ballpoint pens that had to suffer as he swept them down on the floor, turned abruptly, and stomped back to the office island.
Viljar sighed, picked up the pens, and looked over the facts again in the article he was supposed to write.
Anemic. Boring. Uninteresting. Three words that were very precise, not only for the content of the impending article, but also for the task of writing it. Even so, one hour later it was mostly done. The text lacked soul, inspiration, and interesting literary flourishes. Such articles were what newspaper people called PCDF: politically correct dry fodder.
Viljar yawned, planting his shoes well down in the wall-to-wall carpet before, in a moment of thoughtlessness, he leaned backwards in the black chair. It was with a cry of distress that he managed to pull himself up as the chair lost its balance and threatened to send him flying. He looked quickly around to see if anyone had noticed, before with a dejected sigh he pressed Send without proofreading.
He was ready for the first smoke break of the day and grabbed the long gray topcoat he'd bought at Goodwill for a few bucks three years ago. The topcoat fluttered behind him as he walked through the corridor on his way to the elevator. One of the interns greeted him with a raised hand as he passed the lowest of the workstations. Viljar did not condescend to give the young upstart a glance. The interns were still beneath him in the work hierarchy, albeit just barely.
A colleague was standing in the parking lot outside the media house, smoking. Viljar went in the opposite direction and lit a cigarette. The only thing he hated more than politically correct dry fodder was colleagues making small talk. Viljar had more than enough problems of his own.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Requiem"
Copyright © 2016 Geir Tangen.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
About the Author,