Due to all the hype lately about the Scandinavian mystery writers, I've been reading some of their books (no, I'm not talking about Stieg Larsson). This book, "The Fourth Man", is one that I would recommend skipping if you're on the same quest. It might ultimately be a good book, but you have to wade through so much chaff at the beginning that the trip does not seem worth the journey. I made it through the first few chapters before I said enough and put the book down.
Frank Froelich is apparently a detective for the Oslo police department; I'm not quite clear about that, since correct police procedure seems to take a back seat in this story. At the beginning of the book, in the middle of some sort of grocery shop sting operation (poorly written - the positioning and movement of the characters doesn't quite make sense), and our hero saves a mysterious woman who in the confusion of the shooting attempts to steal cigarettes. He's taken with her blue eyes, can't get her out of his mind, yet when he runs into her in a cafe he gets away from her ASAP because his instinct is telling him there's something hinky about this contact. But, she follows him via various public transports, to his neighborhood and home. Instead of this raising about six hundred warning flags in his brain, he lets her into his home and beds her. Then he sexually obsesses about her; she texts him and he comes running and they tryst in a roadside stop. He tries to resist; she stalks him. He comes home from work, finding her naked in his house; she had stolen one of his house keys when she was last there. He is upset by it - so he beds her again.
Maybe it's because I'm female that I can't understand his obsession with this woman, but I don't think so. I think it's just one of those books that tries to be so edgy that it manages to fall off the cliff of good storytelling. The characters speak in cryptic utterances, there seems to be no connection between the policeman and police procedure, and for the life of me I can't fathom why the woman is viewed as interesting, much less sexually alluring - even taking into account individual tastes. I also didn't get any sense of "place" in the story; perhaps the location references might make sense to Norwegian readers, but I wasn't given enough information by the author to tell if they were buildings, stores, or streets. I didn't expect footnotes, but there are ways of giving readers clues - especially if you're hoping to court readers outside your own country.
When you feel as though reading is a chore instead of a delight, you know it's time to put down the book and walk away. Maybe this book improves, maybe the rest of the books in the series are better, but I'll never know because I'm not going to bother to read them.