I saw the person with a gun first and I felt obligated to read the blurb. As expected, forbidden fantasies between the hire-to-kill Olav and his boss’s wife, Corina, who – WTF? – Olav has been sent to kill for having an intimate affair with her stepson. This story was translated by Neil Smith from Norwegian to English.
Buckle up because this plot is wild!
Olav Johansen is our philosophical main character. He’s a bit of an odd duck, with layers of personality that slowly unravels as the story progresses. Although, he’s VERY confusing. Obedient? Yes and no. Tough? Yes and no. Decisive? Yes and no. He’s a little bit of this and that, with a fractured and deluded mindset as a result of his abusive father, who he killed when he was 19 – also who strangely reminded me of Jazz’s serial killer dad from I Hunt Killers, good book – and his junkie mom, a confused and clearly crazy person who liked being dominated by Olav’s macho dad. Old-fashioned Norwegian misogyny?
Anyway, Olav falls into the downward spiral of crime and eventually becomes a fixer (a nice way of saying mass murderer). Then he kills many people and.. gets hypnotized by his next target and contract, Corina Hoffmann, Daniel Hoffmann’s (Olav’s boss’s name) wife.
Okay. Getting messier here. There are two points of messed up interest here: 1. Olav is supposedly in love with Maria, the deaf and dumb supermarket cashier he stalks and obsesses over. 2. Screw romance and love at first sight because Olav, a person that takes the lives of others and gets paid from a heroin and prostitution crime boss for a living (hah – the complete irony) because of his loyalty and devotion to Daniel, just falls in love with his boss’s wife because what? She has an hourglass body and some round breasts?
So Olav’s supposedly in love with Maria flipping Myriel – not Corina, a young woman he just met. He’s willing to risk it all for this new girl. To do this he plans on fixing Daniel Hoffmann, who is looking for both of them after Olav killed his son, Benjamin, because he was abusing and forcing himself on Corina. The childhood memories come flooding back, huh? Instead of choosing to be smart, which he has already shown he is capable of being from getting away after killing so many people, he contacts the Fisherman and literally seals his fate.
Two people share Oslo’s market: Daniel and the Fisherman. The latter, a fat and seemingly jovial man, would do just about anything to eliminate his market competition and vice versa. Olav takes advantage of this and requests help from him in order to end Daniel once and for all with mutual benefits on each side. Which is just a completely dumb and totally spontaneous decision because the Fisherman ought to kill Olav afterwards as vengeance for all his people Olav’s killed when he was working for Daniel. When you’re in that shady, blood-tainted business for so long, it would be weird for you to not be able to pick up that blatantly obvious fact.
Another reason Olav’s working under the Fisherman’s wing is so that he can get the money he needs to buy plane tickets to fly to Paris, because that’s the place Corina wants to go once Daniel is off their backs. Problems here: Olav has spent all his money from killing people to pay off Marias drug addicted younger brother’s debt in order to protect Maria. Hell yeah but blud – if you’re confused whether you love Maria or not, why are you also so damn insistent on escaping to another country with this girl you barely know? Alright, Olavs said he falls in love quickly and thats the reason he can’t work in prostitution but I didn’t really take him for hte playboy type. You might think I’m cherrypicking details but this incident has led me to question what kind of person Olav really is. Is that the author’s intention?
While we’re on the topic of confusing people: Corina Hoffmann. This weird, suspicious lady that has gotten me riled up. By the end of the story I barely have any idea behind Corina’s actions and her backstory. Sure, Olav isn’t interested, but the same can’t be said about us readers. She likes lying and manipulating people to get what she wants: apparently being degraded by people like Benjamin and Olav’s father. Okay… and? Without context and reason behind how her personality formed, it’s quite hard to determine whether we should like, hate, or stay neutral about this character. Again – author’s intentions. Was Corina meant to leave us confused and dissatisfied?
Critiques aside, this was a super suspenseful and fast-paced book, leaving no room for errors. One misstep and you die. It was an awesome ending that finally revealed Olav’s feelings for Maria. Although why do I keep feeling like the only reason Olav came to the supermarket where Maria works to see her was because Corina betrayed him? Is Maria the second option? Anyway, it was also really cool to see the clear goal and climax of the book and whether the goal was achieved or not. I also enjoyed the style of writing. It was simple and straight to the point, somehow a nice exchange from the complex and compound sentences threaded with fancy synonyms of basic words that boasts intelligence.
Quick note: Despite the blurb, it doesn’t really fall under crime. More of like thriller. This is a really recommended book. Super :>