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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic police detective novel that keeps the reader guessing, 29 May 2010
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This review is from: The Last Fix (Paperback)
Translated by Don Bartlett. The Last Fix is a very enjoyable, if ultimately sad, police procedural set in Oslo, Norway. Katrine, a young woman who works part-time in a travel agent, is attacked by a customer demanding money. Shaken by this event, Katrine's older colleague, Elise, makes the girl admit that the attack had something to do with her past. The events and mystery of Katrine's past are the driving force of what follows.
The framework of the novel is a staple classic of crime-fiction: there is a group of witnesses and possible suspects; the police interview them all and try to reconstruct the crime and hence find out who was responsible for a particularly cruel murder. In parallel, under the surface, the story is replete with acutely presented social commentary and insight. Broadly, there are two main elements to the investigation: the victim's current lifestyle and associates; and the group of older people, at least one or more of whom must have figured in the past. Revelations come from within both elements which lead to an eventual solution, but the truth only emerges when the past is fully uncovered and the police can make the complete deduction.
In common with the best of crime fiction, this novel is much to do with false perceptions and the author's ability, aided and abetted by translator supreme, Don Bartlett, to throw the reader off the track, both directly and via letting the reader draw the wrong conclusion from what some of the witnesses say or think. Re-reading the first chapter of the book near the end, when the visit to the travel agent's is retold from another point of view, is one of many examples in which it can be seen how the police, other characters and the reader can be fooled into making the wrong assumption. The very title of the novel also falls into this category.
I highly recommend this absorbing novel. A review is too brief a space to touch on all the aspects of it that I liked, but there is lots of black humour and observational philosophy in the interplay between the police, and a genuine, deep humanity in the initially sparse but gradually fleshed-out tale of the central character.
The publisher (Faber) is not very helpful in first, publishing this series out of order (in translation); and second in not providing a chronological list of the titles in the front of the book. The Last Fix is the most recent to be published in English, but in fact is second in the series as a whole. The other two that have been translated so far are The Man in the Window (no 3) and The Fourth Man (no 5).

The full version of this review is at my blog, Petrona.
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