Norwegian title: Ulmebrann
This review has been a long time coming! I finished this book in February but due to this being one of the nominees for the book prize I was judging this week I haven’t been able to post the review until after the prize was handed out. It’s been a while since I’ve read crime by Norwegian authors, so it was fun to get back into it. I’m still claiming Historical Fiction as my favourite genre though! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads and translated by me:
A bus is fully engulfed in flames in a tunnel in Bergen, Norway. Alice Bratt, who works as a journalist for BA (Bergensavisen), quickly catches on that this is not a normal traffic accident. What’s hidden in the burnt-out wreck? The case quickly takes on a personal turn for Alice since the bus carried with it one of her close friends, Hassan. He is now critically injured in the hospital and Alice starts to receive anonymous emails. Next to all of this its only nine days until the new mayor is supposed to be elected, the clock is ticking!
So, my immediate thought when I started to read this book was; How messy! Then I went onto Goodreads and I realized that this was the fourth book in the series about Alice Bratt so that explained a little bit of why I felt it was a bit messy. We are introduced to old and new characters whereas some of the old ones are not really introduced to the reader, but when it’s the fourth book in a series I suppose you can’t really expect that which is ok. I wouldn’t say I was poorer off for not having read the first books just a little confused. Another reason might be that in a crime novel we are presented with a lot of loose strings that binds together at the end. My persona doesn’t like loose ends, we don’t handle them very well, haha. Maybe that’s why I don’t read a lot of crime novels? On the positive side, I really appreciated the loose ends when they weren’t loose anymore!
The story has a nice drive with short chapters from different perspectives which gives us multiple ways to possibly figuring out the story. As normal, I didn’t have a chance of figuring this crime out either but when I got used to Yndestad’s writing style I really started to appreciate it! The language is solid yet simple and there is a good balance between journalistic terms and regular language. This book gives the reader some REAL cliff-hangers and plot-twists. A couple of times during the story I was awestruck by the turn of the story and how Yndestad slowly pulled you into the story for then just to drop a massive cliff-hanger which made it impossible to put the book down. These cliff-hangers and plot-twists really compliments our main character Alice in my opinion because I feel the reader gets to know her in a different way than the previous books. I’m not sure whether this is correct or not, it’s just a hunch I got whilst reading.
Alice seems to have been through a certain number of things during her career as a crime journalist and this time she’s personally involved. My vision of Alice is a petite woman with a sharp persona and eyes that view things critically, so she really seems perfect for her job! A female crime journalist is to me very intriguing because I suspect it is a man dominated field? I always enjoy a solid and well composed female character anyway, and I enjoyed getting to know her network of contacts because I felt that it gave us a nice insight into how the system works. Besides, Alice has a dog named Charlie and who can resist that?
Smoldering Fire will keep you on your toes with its cliff-hangers and plot-twists and you’ll become engrossed in the story. It’s an easy read yet the storyline is quite complex. Hopefully you won’t find it as confusing as I did in the very beginning, but I’ll try to read the first few book in the series and hopefully get to know Alice and her work better!
Genre: Crime novel
Theme: Journalism, family, politics
– The Book Reader