Review | Monday 30 July 2012
This book was smartly discovered by Henry Rosenbloom, pal of Readings and publisher at Scribe, so Australian audiences have a chance to read it before the rest of the world joins the party.
Miller is an American living in Norway, as is the book’s protagonist – the elderly and increasingly confused ex-Marine Sheldon Horowitz. After his wife’s death, he moves to Oslo with his granddaughter Rhea and her husband Lars, his last familial connection since his son was killed at war. Years later, Sheldon is still ill-reconciled with the death, continuing to equate being a soldier with manhood and the victim of a slowly increasing paranoia.
One day he takes it upon himself to help hide a woman and her son from a brutal abuser. Yet when the police arrive, the woman is dead, and Sheldon and the boy are gone. Not trusting the system and in an attempt to atone for past wrongs, Sheldon decides to take the child on the run, using his street-smarts and society’s allowance for old men to be loud, bizarre and belligerent to get by. The police, however, are not as daft as Sheldon thinks – and neither are the men who want both the boy and the secrets he hides.
This book enables the reader to be truly present in the minds of its characters. Norway, America, war and history all the way back to biblical times are beautifully deconstructed by Sheldon and those around him, while never detracting from the immediate tension of the story.
Norwegian by Night is peppered with points of difference – a hero plagued with arthritis and the onset of dementia, who views the Scandinavian landscape from afar instead of within – but what really makes this book my pick of the month is the incredible writing: fluid and enchanting, suspenseful and engaging, crime as serious literature.
Fiona Hardy sells books and talks too much to customers at Readings Carlton, and puts together Dead Write for the Readings Monthly. She blogs haphazardly about movies and books (and sometimes music) and you can follow her on twitter - @readwatchtweet.