The Fourth Man, by K. O. Dahl

by admin on March 16, 2010

Sequences can be a little confusing with Scandinavian The Fourth Man, by K. O. Dahlcrime fiction books translated into English. UK and US publishers seem to disregard them – instead of publishing series, they seemingly want to publish single books. Oh well – with that little gripe out of the way – The Fourth Man is the fifth in the Gunnarstranda/Frolich  series by K. O. Dahl (in Norwegian), but the first to be translated into English.

It is an interesting novel, where one of the things to notice is that unprofessional conduct by Inspector Frank Frolich plays a key part in the novel. The good inspector takes part in a police operation. Then he sees a woman leisurely walking the aisles of the shop where no customers should be, as the police are about to raid it. He rushes inside, tackles her to the floor, and manages to get her out of the way milliseconds before the bullets start flying. The lady he saved was one Elisabeth Faremo.

A while later Frolich meets the lady again. And there is sweet music in the air. They are attracted to one another, and start an intense, almost feverish affair.

It was complicated from the start, as Elisabeth was a witness. But it got much more complicated when Frolich learned that Elisabeth was also the sister of a well known local criminal, Johnny. Very complicated, very unprofessional. And then Johnny is involved in a new crime, Elisabeth disappears, and it gets really difficult and troublesome for Inspector Frolich! And as he learns more and more, things go from bad to much worse.

The Fourth Man is well written and excellently translated by Don Bartlett. I simply love some of the descriptions:

“She was the crowning glory of a total work of art: the materialized essence of litter, blaring radio, mess and an aura of liberated indifference.”

The Fourth Man is a great, fairly dark police procedural/psychological thriller with several surprises and good, interesting characters and very interesting dynamics among the characters – some of them quite deep and dysfunctional as well. And in the course of the investigation we are faced with an intriguing, tangled web of art theft, blackmail, torrid sex and double crosses. The plot is smart and complex, and Dahl moves it along at a pretty brisk pace. I like The Fourth Man a lot – a great read is my opinion. In the Scandinavian crime fiction literature K. O. Dahl has taken possession of his own niche – this book is neither Sjowall & Wahloo, nor Mankell or Fossum or Nesbo. Well worth reading, rich and densely written, and recommended!

Praise for K. O. Dahl:

“I have read many clever and thrilling crime novels through my life, but often they have nothing to do with real life. .. when K.O. Dahl tells his stories, I believe every single word.” –Karin Fossum, author of The Indian Bride

“An absorbing study of sexual enthrallment, dogged police work and a harrowing twist or two: Fans of procedurals…will snap this one up.” –Kirkus

“Recommend to fans of Karin Fossum and Kjell Eriksson. Dahl is a formidable talent whose books may well become as popular in the US as in Norway.” –Booklist

“Effective and entertaining crime….We let ourselves be both mesmerized and entertained…” –Adresseavisen (Norway)

“Elite crime writing… Kjell Ola Dahl is one of the big names of Norwegian crime fiction, and The Fourth Man shows why …” –Stavanger Aftenblad (Norway)

“…an excellent crime novel has seen the light of day…” –Hersfelder Zeitung (Germany)


The Last Fix, by K O Dahl

by admin on March 4, 2010

A young woman, Katrine Bratterud, has problems with drugs. The Last Fix, by K. O. Dahl Now she is finishing her rehabilitation program, and struggles to put her chaotic life into something more orderly. She feels that things are going well, and is confident enough to celebrate her progress with her social workers. She feels good!

Leaving her lover asleep in a car, she strays to the shore of a lake. With dawn breaking, she sees a man approaching her. A naked man. It is the last thing Katrine will ever see.

This is the intriguing opening on the most recent installment in K O Dahl’s series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda and his assistant Frank Frølich. The Last Fix is a great and much rewarded novel – it has won the Riverton Prize 2000 for Best Norwegian Crime Novel of the Year, was nominated for the Brage Literary Prize 2000 for Best Norwegian Literary Novel of the Year, The Glass Key (Glasnyckeln) 2000 for Best Nordic Crime Novel of the Year and the Martin Beck Award 2001 for Best Foreign Crime Novel of the Year. Also, it has been excellently translated by Don Bartlett.

The Last Fix is the third crime fiction novel in the series translated into English, but actually the second in this series – the English translations are out of sequence. The two previous books were The Fourth Man and The Man in the Window.

Like the previous books, this too is a police procedural that is also a social novel – as many Scandinavian crime fiction novels are, following in the footsteps of Sjöwall and Wahlöö, Henning Mankell and others. To me, the caustic observations and commentary on life in modern Norway add authenticity and value to K O Dahl’s books. And so does Dahl’s excellent prose, understatements, dry humor and skillful building of tension.

Why did Katrine Bratterud disappear? And why did she have to die? The dynamic duo Gunnarstranda and Frølich have another tough case to solve. Maybe this time even a case that cannot be solved, as there are few leads to go by. The investigation is hard and very time consuming, and the detectives soon start to focus on possible motives. Is there something in Katrine’s past as an addict and prostitute that holds the key to the crime? Or could one of the staff members of the rehabilitation center be the murderer?

This is an intelligent, suspenseful and entertaining book. The police procedural aspect is excellent, with lots of interesting details of a modern police procedure, and the plot very good. I liked the ending a lot too.


The Man in the Window, by K O Dahl

by admin on February 10, 2010

The Man in The Window is the third book (in the original Norwegian sequence) in KO Dahl’s series about Frolich and Gunnarstranda.

The Man in the Window, by K O Dahl Seventy-nine-year-old Reidar Folke Jespersen, who sells antiques in Oslo, is one day sitting in a restaurant, looking at his wife entering an apartment on the other side of the street, where her lover lives. He leaves the restaurant to meet his brothers. Next morning he is found murdered, sitting naked in a chair in the window of his antique shop.

The case is assigned to detective Gunnarstranda and his assistant, Frank Frolich. The clues are few and difficult to interpret. A red string is tied around his neck, and three crosses and a number – 195 – has been written across his chest. Some items from WWII are missing. Also, clearly, several people are quite pleased that Jespersen is dead.

The Man In The Window is an intricate and thrilling detective story about love, loyalty, guilt, desire for revenge and shadows from the past. These questions consume the investigation, just as they fill the private lives of the investigators. What they uncover is a country where victims, perpetrators and even police officers are haunted by the past, and are still trying to cope with the dark memories of the Nazi occupation of the country.

K O Dahl has a sharp eye for dialogues, he elaborates detailed portraits, he creates surprising relationships and he is excellent at creating tension and atmosphere. The Man in the Window is one of his best, and highly recommended.

Praise for The Man in the Window:

“I have read many clever and thrilling crime novels through my life, but often they have nothing to do with real life. If I don’t believe in them, they don’t impress me. But when K.O. Dahl tells his stories, I believe every single word.”

– Karin Fossum, author of The Indian Bride

”A psychologically truthful detective story from the Scandinavian school, with interesting characters and a large portion of laconism.

– Welt am Sonntag (Germany)

”With The Man In The Window, Kjell Ola Dahl proves that not only Swedes master the genre with bravur but also Norwegians.”

– Frankfurter Rundshau (Germany)

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K.O. Dahl – Biography

by admin on December 6, 2009

The acclaimed and award winning crime writer Kjell Ola Dahl (aka K.O. Dahl), is widely recognized as one of Norway’s premier crime writers. Since his debut in 1993 he has maintained a position as one of the best in the genre in Norway.

Kjell Ola Dahl, aka K.O. DahlHis popular crime series with Detective Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda and his assistant Frolich is rapidly becoming an international success, and critics around Europe have labeled him as Norway’s answer to Sjöwall/Wahlöö and Henning Mankell. Now, four of his renowned novels are to be published in the U.S. Expect corrupt businessmen and femme fatales. And some poetry.

Gunnarstranda is a bit of a cult figure in Norway, with his porcelain teeth, his comb-over hairdo and his very grumpy behavior.

Kjell Ola Dahl was born February 4th, 1958 in Gjøvik. He grew up in Oslo. Dahl has a BA (psychology, law and business economics). He has had several jobs, but has mostly worked as a teacher. He is currently a full time writer.

Prizes, K. O. Dahl

Kjell Ola Dahl has been awarded the Riverton Prize (Riverton-prisen) and nominated for The Glass Key (Glasnyckeln), the Brage Literary Prize (Brage-prisen) and the Martin Beck Award.


Bibliography K.O. Dahl (Kjell Ola Dahl)

by admin on December 5, 2009

Books in English

In Norwegian

  • Dødens investeringer (1993)
  • Seksognitti (1994)
  • Miniatyren (1996)
  • Siste skygge av tvil (1998)
  • En liten gyllen ring (2000) – The Last Fix
  • Mannen i vinduet (2001) – The Man in the Window
  • Gjensynsgleder – love stories (2002)
  • Lille tambur (2003)
  • Venezia – forfatterens guide (2004) – a travel guide
  • Den fjerde raneren (2005) – The Fourth Man
  • Lindeman & Sachs (2006)
  • Svart engel (2007)
  • Lindemans tivoli (2008)
  • Kvinnen i plast

Author’s website (in Norwegian)