The Last Fix, by K. O. Dahl

K. O. Dahl

The acclaimed and award winning crime writer Kjell Ola Dahl (aka K.O. Dahl, KO Dahl), widely recognized as one of Norway's premier crime writers, has since his debut in 1993 maintained a position as one of the best in the genre in Norway.

K.O. DahlHis popular crime series with Detective Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda and his assistant Frolich is rapidly becoming an international success, and critics around Europe have labeled him as Norway's answer to Sjöwall/Wahlöö and Henning Mankell. Now, four of his renowned novels are to be published in the U.S. Expect corrupt businessmen and femme fatales. And some poetry.

Books in English

  • The Fourth Man (2007, translated by Don Bartlett)
  • The Man in the Window (2008, translated by Don Bartlett)
  • The Last Fix (2009, translated by Don Bartlett)
  • Lethal Investments (2011)

Prizes, K. O. Dahl

Kjell Ola Dahl has been awarded the Riverton Prize (Riverton-prisen) and nominated for The Glass Key (Glasnyckeln), the Brage Literary Prize (Brage-prisen) and the Martin Beck Award.

The Last Fix (original title En liten gyllen ring), by Norwegian author Kjell Ola Dahl, is another installment in his series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda The Last Fix, by K.O. Dahl and his assistant Frank Frølich. It is actually the second crime novel in this series – the English tranlations are out of sequence. It has won the Riverton Prize (Riverton-prisen) 2000 for Best Norwegian Crime Novel of the Year, was nominated for the Brage Literary Prize (Brage-prisen) 2000 for Best Norwegian Literary Novel of the Year, The Glass Key (Glasnyckeln) 2000 for Best Nordic Crime Novel of the Year and the Martin Beck Award 2001 for Best Foreign Crime Novel of the Year.

This suspenseful thriller starts with the killing of a young woman, found brutally murdered. The evening before, Katrine Bratterud was at a party in a collective for drug abusers, where she was just finishing her treatment. However, at this point she was clean and had a good job. She disappeared from the party in a car. The last thing she sees is a naked man approaching from out of the woods. Why did she disappear? And why did she have to die?

Gunnarstranda and Frølich have a tough case to solve. Maybe even a case that cannot be solved, as there are few leads. The investigation is hard and time consuming, and with few to go on they soon start to focus on possible motives. Is Katrine’s past as an addict the key to the crime?

The Last Fix is a good, well plotted, suspenseful police procedural, and has lots of interesting details of a modern police procedure. It is, to my taste maybe a little too full of moralistic clichés about modern society, and also to some extent a little vulgar in its use of language. However, this is the style of K.O. Dahl and not due to the translator, Don Bartlett, who seems to me to have done an excellent job. On the other hand, the novel also has some interesting psychological insights, entertaining understatements and dry humor. The ending is great.

The Fourth Man, by Kjell Ola Dahl

The Fourth Man,The Fourth Man, by K. O. Dahl actually the fifth novel inspectors Gunnarstranda and Frolich (Frølich), is in some ways more similar to American crime novels than for instance those by Scandinavian authors like Karin Fossum, Karin Alvtegen, Jo Nesbo, Ake Edwardson or Henning Mankell. It is a hard-boiled noir style novel with a lean style, and reminds me more of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. There is, however, considerable psychological depth.

In the course of a routine police raid, Detective Inspector Frank Frolich of the Oslo Police saves the life of Elizabeth Faremo. She is a dark-haired beauty with mysterious eyes who was inadvertently caught in the crossfire. This is where The Fourth Man starts. Some weeks later, Frolich coincidentally runs into her again. He is attracted to her and they start an affair, even though his colleagues warn him about it.

By the time Frolich learns that Elisabeth is the sister of a known local gang-member, Johnny Faremo, it is already too late. And then Johnny is implicated in a crime, a security guard is attacked and killed. But Elisabeth gives her brother and his gang an alibi and Frolich's name is mentioned. Then Elisabeth disappears. Now Frolich is plunged into both an emotional tempest as well as a complex investigation. He is forced to rethink their relationship. Were things as they seemed?

Frolich is asked to take some time off. And his boss Gunnarstranda is upset and believes Frank has been played from the very beginning. And as the body count increases, Frolich begins his own unofficial investigation.

Complex, dark and tragic, The Fourth Man is a tale of revenge and erotic obsession, where love lures a good cop to walk on the wild side. This is classical crime noir in a modern setting. It has it all: cynical strippers, tough-talking gangsters, corrupt businessmen, mixed identities and a bona fide femme fatale. Dahl's language is, as one critic put it “spiced with small poetic observations … of remarkably high quality.” The author himself says that this is his project, to “combine the genre literature with a little poetry and literary storytelling.” The Fourth Man proves that K.O. Dahl is able to do this.

Order books by KO Dahl from amazon UK: The Fourth Man and The Man in the Window.

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