Book Review: The Owl Always Hunts at Night

owlhunts

The Owl Always Hunts at Night, by Samuel Bjork (translated by Charlotte Barslund), is the second book in the author’s Holger Munch and Mia Krüger series which started with I’m Travelling Alone (reviewed here). Although the protagonists retain the quirks that irritated me in the first book – Munch’s chain smoking, Krüger’s lozenge eating and both constantly in need of sleep – the writing is tighter and I was sufficiently drawn into the plot that these idiosyncrasies proved less of a distraction.

In this book a young woman is found dead in remote woodland. She is naked and posed amongst what look to be ritual objects. Disturbing as this is, the condition of the body suggests that this was not just a murder but that she may have been held for some time before her death. There is little forensic evidence at the scene and those she lived with can offer no suggestions as to why she would have been taken.

Krüger is still suspended from work but Munch is determined to have her back on his crack team at the Norwegian police department’s Violent Crimes Unit. His boss still has concerns about her mental fitness but reluctantly agrees to her return. Throughout the investigation Krüger struggles with depression which at times threatens to overwhelm her and risks compromising her innate ability to spot the clues and associations that others miss.

Other important members of the team include the computer whizz Gabriel Mørk whose hacker friend, Skunk, offers a breakthrough despite his mistrust of the police. Krüger’s treatment of them both is unlikely to encourage future cooperation.

The murder victim had been living in a home for damaged young people. Their provenance adds to the difficulties faced by the investigating team as they try to guess the killer’s identity and modus operandi. There are many potential leads to follow but little proof.

Munch’s daughter, Miriam, also ends up in trouble when she considers indulging in the excitement of an affair, her comfortable existence with her partner now regarded as dull. She seems content to allow her ever willing mother to take on the burden of caring for her child while she contemplates returning to the rebellions of her youth.

Despite struggling to empathise with many of the characters I was drawn into the investigation. The plot has many intriguing twists and turns offering a puzzle that was enjoyable to try to solve. The build up of tension was skilfully managed, the final threads keeping the reader engaged through to the final page.

An entertaining crime thriller even if I didn’t warm to the protagonists. The cold and darkness of the setting were well evoked and the killer, once revealed, was as chilling as they come.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Doubleday.

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