Sunday, 17 February 2019

Inborn by Thomas Enger (translated by Kari Dickson)

Last November, at the Wee Crime Festival in Grantown-On-Spey, I was lucky enough to meet Thomas Enger. He was very gentlemanly and utterly delightful. I didn't know his work at the time, but came away the proud owner of signed copies of the first two books in his Henning Juul series. So I was excited to be invited to take part in the blog tour for this, a standalone YA/adult crime crossover.

Huge thanks to the lovely Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me and to the awesome Karen Sullivan at Orenda for my review copy.

The Blurb:

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 know ourselves?

Inborn was published by Orenda Books on 7th February. You can buy it from Waterstones and Amazon.

My Review:

So this was my first taster of Enger's writing, and what a fantastic way for me to start!

The story opens with young Even about to be quizzed in court, but we don't know why. So immediately I was intrigued. What has happened? What has he done? Had he done anything? I just had to find out more.

The tale switches between the court case and the events leading up to it. It was a great way to present the story, as each courtroom segment gave a wee hint at what might be coming next, like the trailer for a movie.

So as the story develops, we learn what has happened, but we also learn more about Even, his history, his family and friends, and other people from the town. Some are likeable, some not so much. A stand out character for me was Yngve Mork, the police chief inspector in charge of the case. He's an older man, recently widowed and grieving. He feels his late wife's presence everywhere, hears her voice and still asks her for help. Also Imo, Even's uncle and role model since the death of his father, is a strong character, known to everyone.

The characterisation is superb, second to none, and key to the story. We really get to know the folk featured, they get under our skin and we care what happens to them. My heart broke for Even several times - his difficult home life as his mum deteriorates, his friends doubting him, his first broken heart. But he is resilient, strong and determined to get at the truth, even if it hurts.

Enger's writing is simple and concise - there are no wasted words. He draws you in completely and carries you along as he teases out the details little by little.  There are some red herrings thrown in along the way, and I was certainly barking up the wrong tree. There are several shocks, real "Woah!" moments that I didn't see coming at all.

I don't tend to read YA material, so to have a YA/adult crime crossover was a perfect introduction to the genre for me. And a perfect introduction to Enger's books too. Inborn is a dark, claustrophobic, moving thriller with plenty of surprises thrown in. Another fabulous release from the Orenda stable. And I can't wait to get into those Henning Juul books now!

The Author:

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, a Young Adult suspense novel upon which Inborn is based, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the same prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jørn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.