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on 26 May 2016
It begins as a locked room mystery then turns into something else entirely. Setting it in 1968 allows the author to give it a period feel (and not worry too much about forensics) but also to make the German occupation of Norway pivotal to the plot. Through his characters, the author pays homage to Agatha Christie, but he transcends the genre by writing about specific historical events.

With the unlikely pair of detectives and a host of coincidences, it shouldn't work, but somehow it does. The culprit is easy to guess but the way the motive is revealed is poignant and believable. The author's note at the end is fascinating in itself, particularly to anyone who has read Ben MacIntyre's brilliant 'Agent Zigzag' - but leave it until you've read the rest of the book or it will give away too much of the plot.
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on 15 June 2016
Good read. Recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 June 2014
The Human Flies – Simply Buzzing

Hans Olav Lahlum I am told is a bestselling Norwegian crime writer and famous historian, yup me neither. But then with a population of just under
6 million I am sure even I could be famous or preferably infamous as that would be more fun! Well having read Hans Olav Lahlum’s The Human Flies I am sure he will be pretty famous outside of Norway pretty soon. This is a different Norwegian novel besides the usual noir fair there is a clear nod to the great Agatha Christie in the style of the story which makes it quite a pleasant and enjoyable read.

The Human Flies is set in Oslo 1968 and is narrated by the hero and main star of the novel detective Inspector Kolbjørn Kristiansen (he is known as K2) who is newly promoted is called to a murder in an apartment block. This is no ordinary murder in that the victim is a legendary hero of the Norwegian Resistance during the occupation and former Cabinet minister in post-war governments.

There is no clear reason to why he would have been killed and even though there is an ex-Nazi worker in the same apartment block even he was not interested in killing Olesen. But when the ex-Nazi in a suicide note admits to the killing K2 realises all is not right. Fortunately for K2 he has the help of Patricia who is one of the most intelligent and brilliant young women in Norway the only problem is that she is confined to a wheelchair and rarely ventures outside.

K2 and Patricia need to unravel a web of lies that exist in the apartment block amongst all Olesen’s neighbours and the further they delve the more they have to go back in to Norway’s dark history of the Nazi Occupation. The more they look in on the neighbour’s lies the more confused the story seems as they all could have a reason or reasons to kill Olesen. The more they dig the more questions the more interviews take place as they are able to slowly put together their jigsaw of answers.

This really is an enjoyable, very gripping and ingenious mystery in that we are taken to the dark depths of Norwegian history, which ticks all the boxes for a crime novel with deceit, betrayal and revenge. The tactic of using both K2 and Patricia is ingenious K2 is the Poirot to Patricia’s Miss Marple is a big nod to Agatha Christie especially with the reveal at the end as they announce who the killer or killers are. It should not really work but it does and I cannot wait until the next book in this new series is published.
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Reading Hans Olav Lahlum’s historical crime novel, set in 1968 does remind us of what we were lucky never to have to go through in this country, and that is the scars left by occupation. For most of Europe though the War although when finished still left a spectre behind, that of who collaborated, and those who fought in resistance movements.

This story, narrated by Detective Inspector Kolbjorn Kristiansen opens on the night of 4th April 1968. In America on that night Martin Luther King was assassinated, but in Oslo a certain Harald Olesen was found shot in his apartment. Olesen was a former Resistance fighter and ex-minister, to all intents a hero, so who would want to kill him? As Kristiansen arrives on the scene though he finds that this is not going to be an easy murder to solve. Olesen died in his apartment, there is no weapon in sight, and by statements given by the other residents of the building it would seem that no one had left Olesen’s apartment. So in that case where is the murderer?

With a slight variation this is of course a locked room mystery, that most loved type of whodunit by writers and readers. Logic would dictate that the murder must have been carried out by someone else in the apartment building – but whom? As Kristiansen proceeds with his investigations he is offered advice from a very unexpected source, a female eighteen year old paraplegic.

The back cover blurb on this book states that this is an homage to Agatha Christie, which can be I think quite misleading. Yes, this gives a nod to Agatha Christie, in particular to Hercule Poirot, but also to Sherlock Holmes, so don’t expect this to be a fast paced mystery, because it is a bit slow moving. As witness statements have to be sifted through, witnesses questioned again and lies detected and new claims coming forth this is a quite complex read. Although I worked out quite early on who the murderer is it will really be a matter of how many whodunits and such like you have read in the past that will give you the answer before the detective finds his conclusion.

In all though I found this quite an intelligent and thoughtful read as you find out more and more about the other inhabitants of the apartment block, and what motives they could have to commit murder. Although set in 1968 this book does go back to the War years and as I mentioned at the beginning of this reminds us how fortunate we are in this country not to have certain issues haunting us after the War had ended. It is worth reading the bit in the back of this book by the author and concerning his aunt who this is dedicated to. Some may instantly recognise the name from ‘Agent Zigzag’ and other books and documentaries.
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on 25 October 2016
This book was not at all what I expected. If you are looking for suspense and action, choose another book to read. It has little in common with Agatha Christie except that it is a kind of 'house' mystery. It is narrated in a pedestrian report style. The plot can be seen through from very early on, by any self-respecting crime fiction fan. Despite several points where I thought I would give up reading it, I waded on valiantly to the end. The reasons were that I hope to visit Oslo soon, where the book is set, albeit in the late 60s, and because I'd read in the reviews that it was interesting in relation to the position of Norway in WW2 and the post war years. I didn't learn a lot about Oslo or the War and post-war time, but I learned a little about Norwegian attitudes at the time. I was very glad to reach the end, not only so I could start reading something more exciting, but also because the author wrote a very interesting piece about his aunt who had inspired the book. The writing here, unlike the rest of the book, came to life. I am pleased not to have missed that bit.
I still do not understand what is meant by 'human flies'. Perhaps it was lost in translation. But overall, I am glad I read it.
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on 23 April 2015
An interesting novel. Rather like a cryptic crossword in terms of the way the clues finally give only one answer then only after deliberate obfuscation. Then there is the homage to Agatha Christie plot wise and Lincoln Rhyme with the house bound detective with a brilliant intellect.

Beautifully written and translated. The novel also offers some very interesting history on the second world war and the impact of German occupation 60 years on.

If you buy the book and it is definitely worth the investment of time and money pleasemake sure to read the note from the author at the end. Very poignant. (No spoilers here!)
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on 13 July 2014
Set in Oslo in 1968,this readable novel is an Agatha Christie type closed room detective mystery.
The young keen Detective Inspector Kristiansen (known as K2),is investigating the murder of a famous war-time resistance hero,
who has been killed in his apartment.All the occupants are under suspicion,but seem to have convincing alibis.K2 enlists the help
of Patricia,a wheelchair bound genius.
Not only is this a good thriller,but the interplay between K2 and Patricia fascinates,and as the enquiries progress, there is focus on
Norway's troubled war-time experience under Nazi occupation.
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on 14 December 2016
This murder mystery is slow to get going but once in, I found myself hooked. It is strangely compelling. I'm not convinced that it compares to Agatha Christie any more than other murder mystery writers of similar vintage but there is a pleasing lack of gratuitous violence and gore. It follows the more traditional 'solve the puzzle' crime template. I enjoyed it.
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on 17 February 2017
A book in the footsteps of Agatha Christie. An unlikely duo, but fun to read!
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on 8 November 2015
Excellent reading..I just wish there more than 3 books of Lahlum out there!
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