Today is it my stop on the blog tour for The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl and published by Orenda Books. Thank you to Anne Cater for asking me to be part of the tour. I was given a copy of the book but was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
It seems that there is a wave of books about the second world war, they are everywhere and hard to avoid. I considered myself quite knowledgeable about the second world war and the treatment of Jewish people during the war in Europe. But every book I have read recently has taught me something new, and I have often been shocked at the huge chunks of knowledge that I am missing.
The Courier was one of the books that did just that. I did not know that Norway was so caught up in the war, I had no idea that Jewish people in Norway were persecuted and sent to concentration camps in Poland.
The story revolves around Ester and her experiences, starting with her fleeing Norway for Sweden when the gestapo come for her family, Ester worked as a courier, helping to smuggle illegal newspapers out of Oslo.
It seems that Ester is well connected, knowing many people, some of whom are helpful and others that bring trouble to Ester, both is 1942 and again in 1967 when people are brought back together when someone they all thought was dead turned up very much alive.
The book alternates between the two timelines and I have to admit that I found that confusing for a good part of the book. There are also many names to remember, which for my brain is made even harder by them not being familiar names, although eventually I got the hang of it. There is a small part set in 2015 too.
The story is interesting, I liked the simplicity of the writing, and how everything ties together. Ester is a great character, she’s strong and resilient and she is definitely not someone to be best with. I like a feisty female character and Ester fits the bill perfectly.
The conclusion of the book was not what I expected, it was well done and fitted well with the story.
The Courier is a great example of Nordic Noir, if you haven’t read the genre then you really should, and this book is a great place to start.
In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz.
In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester ’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He
wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he
been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles
across information that forces her to look closely at her past,
and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…
Written with Dahl’s trademark characterisation and clever plotting, The Courier sees one of Norway’s most critically acclaimed authors at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrifying periods of modern history. With its sophisticated storytelling and elegant prose, this stunning and compelling wartime thriller is reminiscent of the writing of John Le Carré and William Boyd.
About The Author:
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.