First of all, big thanks to Anne Cater and the team at Orenda for inviting me to take part in this HUGE #BlogTour for Thomas Enger’s new novel, Inborn.
I am a BIG fan of Scandi crime novels (Nesbo, Larsson et al) and TV shows like Borgen and The Killing, so when the blurb arrived for this, I was straight to Anne asking for a spot on this tour… and let’s just say, I was blinking glad I did!
When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a
murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the
investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and
even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as
being in the dock … for murder?
Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it
becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and
secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community.
As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question
everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a
decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that
someone is prepared to kill to protect?
It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.
But can we trust him?
A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and
asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we
I have always appreciated the almost clinical level of detail that comes with most Scandi Noir novels, and Inborn is no different. Nothing is left to chance, and every detail is tightly-woven and the picture builds so perfectly. The translation to English is quality, too.
Aside from that, this is an absolute belter of a thriller, and one that’ll have you connecting with the characters from the starter gate. This is the story of a young lad, Even, and it’s from his perspective that this murder case is told. He is in the dock, being questioned about the murder of two teenagers after an event at the school – one of whom just happens to be his ex-girlfriend. The other is the new chap – perfect suspect, right? Ah don’t be daft, we find this out in the first dozen pages – Enger isn’t going to give the game away thatttt quickly, is he?
Well, what follows is a book which will keep you guessing, in the same way Midsomer Murders would – too many twists throw you off guard, and you’ll be questioning yourself, and paranoia will set in about how well you actually know your friends and neighbours…
The story is set in a small town-village, Fredheim, and you can imagine it’s a ‘everyone knows your business and is talking about it’ setting – this coupled with the relatively new gossip incubator that is social media, and you can feel the pressure on Even to prove who was responsible for the killings, running alongside the police investigation. It’s riddled with anxiety on multiple levels.
I love the ‘then/now’ narrative in the book, separating the chapters breathlessly – it works so well to get to know the characters on a more personal level, understand their past and any mitigating circumstances, verbal clues to spot -it leaves you wanting more, turning the page going ‘but what happens next!!’
The character who pulled me in the most though, wasn’t Even, but the detective in charge of the case – Yngve Mork. Heading to the end of his career, he’s grieving for his lost wife, and when we first meet him, he’s having a ‘conversation’ with her in the kitchen – it’s heartbreaking but all too real. I love a good flawed detective… more of Yngve please, Thomas!
As the story developed, I became attached to these characters in this rainy, dark village. I am not saying anything else about the storyline, as it’s twisty, complex and totally compelling, and very difficult to say anything without dropping spoilers… but I will definitely be searching out more Enger titles. It’s tense, in places grim (you feel the punches raining down on the ill-fated teenager) but totally enthralling, and for fans of Larsson, Nesbo et al., you can’t go wrong putting Enger into your ‘to be read’ list on Goodreads..
5 stars from me. It’s a clever, dark, and surprising read.
But don’t take my word for it – have a look at what the broadsheets are saying about Enger and Inborn:
‘A gripping narrative that begs comparison to Stieg Larsson’ Bookpage
‘One of the most unusual and intense writers in the field’ Independent
‘An intriguing new voice in crime’ NJ Cooper •
‘Spine-chilling and utterly unputdownable. Thomas Enger has created a masterpiece of intrigue, fastpaced action and suspense that is destined to become Nordic Noir classic’ Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
‘Satisfyingly tense and dark … a deep and complex book’ Sunday Times Crime Club
Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel
Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication,
and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series
have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book
for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he
won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is
based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in
2017 and won the same prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has cowritten
a thriller with Jørn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives
Published: 7 February 2019, Orenda Books.
Follow Thomas on Twitter @EngerThomas