#BlogTour #BookReview Little Drummer by Kjell Ola Dahl @RandomTTours

Little Drummer Graphic 1Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Little Drummer by Kjell Ola Dahl, translated by Don Bartlett. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Orenda for my digital review copy.

Do check out the post by my tour buddy for today, Monika at Monika Reads.


About the Book

When a woman is found dead in her car in a Norwegian parking garage, everyone suspects an overdose… until a forensics report indicates that she was murdered. Oslo Detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda discover that the victim’s Kenyan scientist boyfriend has disappeared, and their investigations soon lead them into the shady world of international pharmaceutical deals.

While Gunnarstranda closes in on the killers in Norway, Frølich and Lise, his new journalist ally, travel to Africa, where they make a series of shocking discoveries about exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications.

When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, all three investigators face incalculable danger, spanning two continents. And not everyone will make it out alive…

Format: Paperback (276 pages)    Publisher: Orenda
Publication date: 26th May 2022 Genre: Crime

Find Little Drummer on Goodreads

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My Review

My first introduction to Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich was in Faithless which I read back in 2017. (I also read the author’s historical crime novel, The Assistant, last year.) Although Little Drummer is the fourth book of the author’s Gunnarstranda and Frølich series to be published in English, it was first published in 2003 – hence the reference to passengers on an airplane watching films on overhead screens! It therefore pre-dates events in Faithless and the other two books in the series published by Orenda – Sister and The Ice Swimmer. (Do try to keep up.)  Although you would miss out on learning more about the backstories of Gunnarstranda and Frølich by not having read previous books (personally I remain unsure about the nature of Gunnarstranda’s relationship with Tove), I certainly think Little Drummer can be enjoyed as a standalone crime novel.

Initially an investigation into an apparent suicide that turns out to be murder, and a separate missing persons enquiry, it’s not long before Little Drummer is transformed from police procedural to international thriller as the action moves from Oslo to Kenya. Whilst pursuing separate lines of inquiry Gunnarstranda and Frølich gradually unearth a web of financial corruption involving insider dealing, the use of shell companies and speculation on risky ventures. When individuals are playing for such high stakes, those who might threaten their enterprise are expendable.

Gunnarstranda and Frølich slowly gather together the pieces of what becomes a frustratingly complex jigsaw. As Gunnarstranda remarks, ‘Following clues after a murder is like gathering the fragments of a dream. It’s all about finding pieces of some surrealistic act and trying to make them fit into a comprehensible picture’. It’s a puzzle which sees them forced to co-operate with others whose motives are not always clear. Frølich in particular finds himself in unfamiliar territory – and unexpected company – when he flies to Kenya to follow leads about the missing scientist.

What I really enjoy about the books is the partnership between Gunnarstranda and Frølich, both on a personal and professional level. Frølich, whilst pondering on his history of failed relationships, always keeps an eye out for his boss, trying to persuade Gunnarstranda to modify his unhealthy habits (even hiding his tobacco at one point). Little Drummer finds Gunnarstranda in particularly melancholy mood, pondering on his own mortality as his lifestyle shows signs of taking its toll. As he admits, he’s ‘a neurotic, work-obsessed, socially dysfunctional man with poor self-knowledge’, not to mention a chain smoker and a whisky drinker.

Although Gunnarstranda and Frølich’s investigation goes to some dark places, exposing some of the inequalities that exist in the world, there are also moments of humour. For example, when Frølich observes a guest at his hotel who is so drunk he passes out with his face in a plate of spaghetti or, my absolute favourite, the incessant, inane chatter of Frølich’s mother and her friend Edna when he gives them a lift in his car.

With its combination of intricate plot and exciting moments of drama, Little Drummer is a skilfully-crafted crime thriller that will keep you turning the pages.

In three words: Tense, dark, compelling

Try something similar: The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer

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DahlKjellOlaAbout 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 thirteen 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.

Connect with Kjell
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#BookReview Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Greenwich ParkAbout the Book

Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret…

Format: Paperback (448 pages)    Publisher: Raven
Publication date: 1st March 2022 Genre: Thriller

Find Greenwich Park on Goodreads

Purchase links
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Disclosure: If you buy a book via the above link, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops

Hive | Amazon UK
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My Review

In this debut novel, the author has combined all the elements you’d expect from a psychological thriller: an intriguing prologue, multiple points of view, some time shifts and an ocean full of red herrings. Okay, there are some points that stretch credulity but the short chapters and engrossing plot keep you turning the pages despite that.

The story is told mostly through the eyes of Helen, with occasional chapters from the point of view of her sister-in-law Serena, and Katie, the girlfriend of Helen’s brother. Poor Helen comes across as extremely naive and easily manipulated, her concern about her pregnancy clouding her eyes to what’s going on around her, especially when it comes to her husband, Daniel.  You won’t be surprised to learn that not everyone is quite what they seem and people presented as ‘perfect’ are often just the opposite. Katie was the character who seemed to have her feet most firmly on the ground using her journalistic skills to try to discover what exactly what was going on, not just what was being presented to her.

Although I guessed some of the plot twists, I’ll confess I didn’t guess them all and the author throws in some clever deflections, false trails and a killer final sentence.

This was a book club pick and all the members agreed this was a well-crafted thriller that would make a great beach read, would be perfect as a Sunday night television drama but probably wouldn’t be a book they’d pick up and read again.

In three words: Compelling, fast-paced, twisty

Try something similar: The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas

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Katherine FaulknerAbout the Author

Katherine is a novelist and journalist. After studying history at Cambridge, she completed a postgraduate diploma in journalism, and has spent a decade working for national newspapers. She has worked as an investigative reporter and won the Cudlipp Award for public interest journalism for her undercover work.  She is now the Head of News Projects for the Sunday Times. She lives in north London with her husband and two daughters. (Photo: Goodreads author page)

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