Norwegian by Night
Complex, layered and utterly original, Derek B. Mille's debut has managed to retain all the elements of a first-rate Scandinavian thriller while turning the genre--and our expectations of it--on its ear.
The plot is deceptively simple. Octogenarian Sheldon Horowitz, a recently widowed watchmaker and Korean War veteran from New York City, has moved to Oslo with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars. Rhea worries that her grandfather--irascible, melancholy and possessed of a razor-sharp ironic wit--may be suffering from dementia. When she miscarries at the beginning of the novel, she fears the news will send him over the edge. At this point, the novel takes one of its many turns: Sheldon witnesses the brutal murder of a Balkan woman whose six-year-old son hides from the attacker. Haunted by war and loss and increasingly merging fantasy and memory with reality, Sheldon decides the safest thing to do is to go on the run with the boy, who speaks no English and remains mute for the entire novel.
The story is moving yet never sentimental, intricate yet effortless. Thought-provoking, evocative, and wry in the best way, Norwegian by Night is a remarkable novel. --Debra Ginsberg, author