Blog tour: 1 to 29 February 2020
Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high-profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series …
Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Forever Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.
Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing …
Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention. Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it …
I’m delighted to share an extract of Chapter 5 of Death Deserved with you today.
Emma got off at the stop near Jomfrubråten. She’d made good use of her tram ride, making a few phone calls to people she knew in the TV 2 building. She’d learned that a taxi had been ordered to collect Sonja Nordstrøm at 7.20 a.m. With a little determined digging, she’d even managed to find out the driver’s name and phone number. Daniel Kvam. She’d called him straight away, but had only reached his voicemail.
For the last ten minutes of the tram journey, she’d thumbed through the first few chapters of Forever Number One, which had left her in no doubt that it would be explosive. Athletes, coaches and family members were told a few home truths, and Nordstrøm more or less accused one of her coaches of having sexually abused her.
Her phone rang just as she crossed Kongsveien.
‘Hi, it’s Daniel Kvam. You just phoned me?’
‘Yes,’ she said, and explained who she was. ‘Thanks for returning my call. It’s about a trip you had arranged for earlier today. You were to pick up Sonja Nordstrøm in Ekeberg at 7.20 a.m., is that right?’
‘That’s right enough,’ Kvam said. ‘But nothing came of it.’
‘I waited outside her house for fifteen minutes, at least, but she never came out.’
‘Didn’t you phone her?’
‘Yes, but it went straight to voicemail. I got out and rang her doorbell, but she still didn’t appear, so in the end I drove off.’
Emma said thanks and hung up.
She was now standing outside Nordstrøm’s magnificent villa, a house situated close to Kongsveien. It had to be at least 400 square metres of real estate, she reckoned, with a massive garage, painted white, adjacent. Building materials wrapped in plastic and remnants of packaging from renovation work were piled up in front of one garage door. Brown, compacted cardboard boxes.
The gate was open, which made Emma think Nordstrøm might have driven off somewhere earlier that day or the previous evening – that basically she’d done a bunk. A media circus such as Amund Zimmer had described would take the wind out of most people’s sails, even if you were totally used to it.
Emma stepped on to the tarmac driveway leading down to the house. Stopping at the front door, she rang the doorbell and heard it chime inside.
She tried one more time with the same result: no one came to open the door. Taking a few paces back, she peered at the windows on the upper storey, but there was no face peeking back at her from behind the curtains. She couldn’t hear anything either.
She tried the doorbell once again. Still no sound from anyone inside. A flash of inspiration made her try the door handle, and she was taken aback to find the door unlocked. Emma let go of the handle but the door continued to glide slowly open. She took a step forwards. Poked her head ever so slightly into a spacious hallway with dark tiles on the floor.
Something on the floor further inside caused her to knit her brows. A coat stand lying on its side. She saw some shards of glass as well, scattered in front of a frame that must once have held a full-length mirror.
Emma stood still and called out: ‘Sonja Nordstrøm?’
She listened, but there was no response.
The sound of her shoes on the tiled floor in the outer hallway resonated through the house. ‘Hello!’ she shouted again, noticing how shaky her voice had become. Her trepidation did not prevent her from venturing further inside, though, into a huge hall with floor tiles in a checkerboard pattern. She made sure not to trample on the fragments of glass from the full-length mirror.
A high ceiling, with the lights switched on, and a glittering chandelier. A staircase led to the upper storey.
Emma continued to call out to Nordstrøm, but still received no answer.
She looked into the kitchen, where everything was elegant – bright surfaces, cooker and fridge in brushed stainless steel. The dark tiles also covered the floor in here. A cupboard full of wine bottles. Fresh flowers on a colossal table. Two wine glasses on the worktop, just beside a copy of Forever Number One. Emma shouted Nordstrøm’s name again, but heard nothing.
Yes, she did hear something.
She followed the sound out of the kitchen and into what appeared to be a living room. The TV was on, tuned into some sports channel or other. In the centre of the TV screen, a starting number was attached with a piece of tape. Number one.
Emma stood looking at it for a few seconds. That’s odd, she thought, as she picked up the remote control to switch off the TV. Then, in a split second, felt how deathly still everything had become.
Her voice hardly carried.
She made one more attempt, louder this time. Still no answer.
All of a sudden she did not want to be there. She had to get out. Fast.
She moved quickly. Her foot slid on the loose carpet in the hallway, but she managed to stay on her feet. She had to fight the urge to look back to see if anyone was watching or chasing her.
Once outside, she was able to breathe normally again. Closing the door behind her, she stood puzzling what to do next. A cat emerged from under a bush and disappeared around the corner of the house. Emma took out her phone and called Kasper.
Kasper Bjerringbo was a Danish journalist she had met at a seminar on digital journalism in Gothenburg a few months earlier. He had worked on Ritzau’s crime reporting unit for years. ‘Well, wonders will never cease,’ Kasper said in a thick Danish accent.
‘Hi, Kasper,’ Emma said. ‘Are you tied up?’
‘Yes, at least I am now.’
Emma smiled, and felt her cheeks grow warm.
‘Nice to hear from you,’ Kasper said. ‘It’s been a while.’
‘Yes, it has.’
‘It … we had fun, didn’t we?’
She pictured his black curls, his captivating smile. His very fit, naked body.
‘Yes we did,’ she said.
Until early in the morning, when tiredness had overcome her and she felt the urge to sneak back to her own bed.
‘I need some help,’ she said. ‘Some advice.’
‘Do you have any experience of … disappearances?’
‘Well, we have a pretty big case going in Denmark right now, in fact.’
‘Yes, a footballer who’s been missing for just over a week – maybe you’ve read about him?’ Emma hadn’t. She didn’t pay much attention to football.
‘Why were you wondering?’ Kasper added.
Emma wasn’t sure how much detail she should give him, so, without mentioning Nordstrøm by name, she told him about the missed appointment at TV 2 and about the house being empty, with the front door open.
‘I think something might have happened to her,’ she concluded.
Kasper was quiet for a few seconds. Emma pictured him sitting in his office, playing with his curls.
‘Then you really have no choice. You have to contact the police,’ he said. ‘And you have to tell them you’ve been inside. If you withhold that kind of information, it might cause problems for you later.’
Emma looked up at the house, hoping she would see Nordstrøm’s face in one of the windows. Kasper was right, of course.
‘The police will almost certainly take it seriously, especially if we’re talking about a famous person,’ Kasper added.
‘Thanks,’ she said. ‘I knew I could count on you.’
‘You’re welcome,’ he replied, then paused for a moment. ‘How are things with you otherwise?’ he asked.
‘Fine,’ Emma said.
‘You’re not thinking of coming to Copenhagen anytime soon?’ he added.
Emma smiled. ‘I don’t think so.’
‘That’s a pity,’ Kasper said.
Yes, Emma said to herself. Maybe it was.
‘I have to go now,’ she said, thanking him again for his help.
For a brief moment, after the call ended, she closed her eyes and shook her head. My God. Stupid, crazy behaviour. Copenhagen and Kasper could actually be really enjoyable. At least until the question of where she should sleep arose.
The steady rumble of traffic from Kongsveien made her brush those thoughts away.
‘OK,’ she told herself, taking a deep breath.
Then she dialled the number for the police.
Buy the book
Death Deserved by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle now and in paperback on 20 February, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.
About the authors
Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively.
Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense.
Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer.
Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.
Twitter: @LierHorst and @EngerThomas
Facebook: @JornLierHorst and @ThomasEnger
Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my digital copy of Death Deserved and for my place on the blog tour.
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