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VINE VOICEon 26 September 2011
Dregs is a very enjoyable, classic police-procedural novel featuring Chief Inspector William Wisting who lives and works in Stavern, a town on the coast south of Oslo. As the novel opens we are plunged straight into the story of how a training shoe containing a foot is washed up on shore. This is the second such find in the space of a week. The police have already investigated all reported missing people in the area, and have identified the names of four people who have disappeared in the past year and not been found. Can they link any of the names to the feet?

As well as being frustrated by an increasingly puzzling case, Wisting, at 51, is feeling his age. As the novel opens he has just been to see his doctor for a check-up, but never gets the time (or the nerve) to find out the results. Wisting is the grandson of one of Amundsen's companions on his polar expedition; he's a widower, living on his own but has started a relatively new relationship with Suzanne, someone he met during a previous case. Wisting has a journalist daughter, Line. At the moment she is working on a long feature article about the effectiveness (or not) of prison sentences as a deterrent. To this end, she plans to interview half a dozen or so convicted criminals who have served their time. One of these is a man from the Stavern area who shot and killed a policeman 20 years ago - hence Line is staying with her father while she prepares for and undertakes the interview. Wisting remembers the case well, and rather dislikes his daughter's project, though wisely does not share this view with her.

Over time, some more feet are discovered as well as another missing person. The police team of Wisting and three colleagues follow up on the disappearances, and are pleased when some relationships become apparent: most of the disappeared had some connection with a particular care home, and two of them had children who subsequently married each other. By dint of questioning and DNA tests, the police discover the identity of the owner of the first foot, and of a third one when that is also washed up on shore, but cannot work out who the second one belongs to.

The novel continues its three themes: the details of the feet investigation; Wisting's thoughts and personal concerns; and Line's progress towards her article (and her romantic relationship with Tommy, an ex(?)-criminal, of whom Wisting disapproves but again sensibly keeps his own counsel). In terms of the case, the pacing of the novel is superb, in that more information comes to light gradually, so one experiences a sense of the police's frustration without being bored at their lack of progress, and also one feels one can have a shot at trying to put the pieces together (which I sort of grasped in outline but did not manage to work out the precise details). Suffice it to say that the eventual explanation for the feet and their state works very well, and the outcome of the mystery is very well put together.

I loved everything about this book: the characters of the introspective, dedicated Wisting and his independent daughter are both interesting (as are the other police officers, though they are sketched quite briefly); the plain-speaking style of writing (and translation); and the way in which many small elements combine to create a complete picture, including input from witnesses and some scientific analysis of ocean currents that leads to the crucial breakthrough. What is slightly annoying for the first-time reader is that this novel is sixth in the series though first to be translated. Much of the back-story of Wisting and Line is therefore lost (though we are told some elements of it). This matters less as the book continues, as the plot increasingly takes over, but detracts slightly from the introductory chapters. The translation itself, so far as I can tell, is naturalistic and faultless.

As an aside, there are several similarities between this novel and the Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell (though Horst is Norwegian and Mankell Swedish). On the basis of this first novel to be translated, I'd say that Horst's novel is every bit as good as his Swedish predecessor. I emphasise that the two series are distinct, and distinctive, of course.

I would also add that the "feet" part of the plot in Dregs is very well done, a good balance of realism, lack of sensationalism and pragmatic straightforwardness. This contrasts considerably with the "severed feet" theme used in another recent book, Fred Vargas's more fabular An Uncertain Place.
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on 29 August 2011
Although 'Dregs' is the sixth novel featuring the Norwegian
Chief Inspector William Wisting,it is the first to be translated
into English.Whilst it is disappointing not to be able to start
at the beginning of the series,this is an enjoyable police
procedural novel,skillfully written by an author who is also
a serving policeman in Norway.
In the course of a week,four different severed left feet,each
in a training shoe,are found washed up on the sea shore.Wisting
is initially mystified ,but slowly as the investigation progresses,
a darker side to the town and its inhabitants is revealed.
'Dregs' is a novel of considerable breadth,not only is it well
plotted,but the author conveys a vivid sense of place,provides
full characters,and engages with social and philosophical issues,
such as the nature and purpose of punishment. Highly recommended.
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This review is from: Dregs (Kindle Edition)
Dregs: the most useless part Of something.
On-line dictionary

When you hear the word, Dregs, you think of 'dregs of society . These are the scoundrels, the most inhumane of our criminals, who seem to be past rehabilitation. This novel sees their side from many angles.

From the beginning, Jorn lier Horst, the author, gives us the axim of the crime, two left shoes, with feet intact to the ankles, that turn up on the beach. William Wistling, is the Police Inspector of this Norwegian city. Five of the victims as it turns out were all part of a resistance group in WWII. They all had weapons, and it is their family's reluctance to expose these weapons that is most interesting. At the same time, Wistling's daughter, Line, a journalist, is researching the experience of criminals on their prison experience. Did this experience inhibit further crime? Wistling does not believe in coincidences, and they abound in this novel. I, too, believe coincidence gives us clues, and it was not too long before I realized who the murderer was. It took me until the end if the novel to find out why and how.

I particularly liked the character of Wistling, he is intelligent, kind and full of misery. He is a well rounded individual, but more of a loner. He often works on gut instinct, and he is most often correct. His superior is a publicity seeking man looking for his next promotion. Wistling suffers him with poise and 'rolling of the eyes'!

'Dregs' seems to be part of a series, and it seems that this is not the first book in the series, but the first one to be translated.I like this police procedural, it offers a different side of the law, and gives us more of a look into the humanity of the characters.

Recommended. prisrob 04-24-13
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on 26 July 2013
I liked this this book - slow-paced and detailed. If you like watching Wallander on TV, this is along those lines. A mystery, and details, that all slowly reveal themselves as the story and the characters unravel.
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on 28 September 2014
This was not edge of the seat drama but it was certainly a good read. I was drawn in by the various characters and the somewhat intricate plot.
I agree with the views of some other reviewers, that Wisting is reminiscent of Wallander. He doesn't rush round 'willy nilly'. He thinks a lot and arrives at the solution.
I shall be trying the next instalment in this series, which is a recommendation in itself.
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on 4 September 2014
Not a bad read. In the later novels, you can see how the characters develop. The story was well developed, although the story almost went off at a tangent with one of the minor characters interviewed by Line. The opportunity for more red herrings could have been exploited with some more subplots, but on the whole a pleasant read. Perhaps the author could revisit the story and develop it further...
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on 26 March 2015
This is the first book to be translated from Norwegian to English. It seems strange to pick the sixth in a series as the one to be translated first. However there is nothing lost in not knowing anything about the other five books, all characters are explained and there is no back story.The plot moves along at a good speed, especially as some chapters are sometimes only two pages.

If you like crime stories, especially Nordic ones, this is a good read.
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on 23 June 2016
It's midsummer and holidaymakers are horrified to find left feet washed up on several of Norway's beautiful beaches. The team quickly link them with a series of disappearances but the reason for the discoveries come to light slowly in a plot that's skilfully developed with surprises spaced out to keep the reader gripped.

I'm really enjoying the William Wisting series. The central character is totally believable as a detective, operating as part of a team, with all the usual tensions. There's a little bit of his private life in the books, but it isn't allowed to dominate. The crime and it's investigation always take centre stage, so although I haven't read the books in order, it doesn't seem to matter.
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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2011
Suddenly there appear to be more Scandanavian authors on the best seller lists these days than ever before. I suppose we have to thank The Girl With Dragon Tattoo series though I would imagine it was really Wallander who brought the area to the notice of the majority.

This is not one of those books. Well, maybe a slight mix but this author concentrates far more on police procedural than all-action. In fact, the only serious action takes place very much towards the end, the author having built up a clever investigation into the several bodies missing their left feet, now being gently washed up on to the shoreline.

I rather imagine that police work is very much as expressed by the author through his main protagonist, William Wisting. It's slow, it's painstaking and little by little pieces appear which begin to create a bigger picture. He uses the old adage of 'follow the money' to work out why the murders took place but it takes forever to discover the killer. And, of course, there is the problematical social life of the Police Inspector for us to contend with, something no book these days seems able to overcome.

In the meantime, Wisting's daughter Line has a journalist's job to do researching how prison affects earlier killers now released after serving their sentence. Obviously, her interviews begin to run parallel to those of her father's team, meeting as the grand finale looms ahead of both of them.

It's a good book and well translated though, for me, it was just a little too repetitive in style. So many chapters end with a weather review, for example that it begins to become a little tedious. Wisting - and his team - are always 'missing' something which gradually appears in a flash of realisation. There are one or two editing mistakes where the English word is incorrectly used but these are picky things and should not really detract from a very enjoyable novel. It's a pity that the 5 earlier books to feature these people have not been translated into English as it now is too late, really. So, let's look forward to book number 7 and hope the publisher's keep the translator on their lists so as not to waste time.
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This is book 6 in Jørn Lier Horst's series about homicide detective William Wisting, but the first one to be translated into English. I much prefer to read books in order as there are invariably things that we miss out on when the 5 previous instalments are left out... I do, however, understand - and reluctantly accept - that the publishers have to ensure that it is financially viable to translate the novels and maybe this in their opinion was the best book to sell the series.

Expectations are always high when I catch wind of new Norwegian authors. The level is usually high with writers such as Holt and Nesbo leading the field - and Joern Lier Horst's book is not bad, but it's not great either. One problem for me has already been mentioned above with the order of the books, but another issue is that it's a very good basic Scandi crime novel, but it doesn't bring anything new to the genre and for me the sympathetic but otherwise uninteresting Wisting doesn't quite warrant the main role. His journalist daughter is my mind much more interesting as she seems to like bad guys and sticking her nose in where she is sure to get into trouble.

Mr Horst obviously know his stuff as a police man and it IS worth a read, but there is still some way to reach the level of the top authors.

3.5 stars
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