Title: The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl (translated by Don Bartlett)
Publisher: Orenda Books
Date Published: 21st January 2019
In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…
Written with Dahl’s trademark characterisation and clever plotting, The Courier sees one of Norway’s most critically- acclaimed authors at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrifying periods of modern history. With its sophisticated storytelling and elegant prose, this stunning and compelling wartime thriller is reminiscent of the writing of John Le Carré and William Boyd.
I want to thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blog tour and providing me with a copy of The Courier.
The Courier is told using multiple timelines, 1942, 1967 and finally 2015. We follow the story of Ester, a young Jewish woman who risks her life to be part of the resistance. After a near miss with the police, Ester flees to Sweden leaving her life behind. Later she finds out that her friend was murdered and blamed on her partner, Gerhard Falkum.
Twenty five years later Gerhard is back, to reconnect with his daughter Turid but is that really why?
The terror and uncertainty of WWII really oozes from the pages of The Courier. It’s packed with vivid descriptions and fascinating characters that will transport you back in time while sitting in the comfort of your own home.
As many of you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I love a novel that teaches me something. I had no idea that the Nazi managed to infiltrate countries like Norway and started persecuting Jews too.
I liked the character of Ester, she’s so strong, having to face such danger and heartbreak, having to run from her own country leaving behind her family and friends, determined to survive.
This is a really intricately plot novel but sometimes I felt that I got a bit lost between the back and forth of the timeline.
I’d recommend The Courier to anyone who loves a good historical spy thriller, full of tension, terror and intrigue.
About 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 eleven 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.