Norwegian by Night

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Such are my idiosyncratic reading habits that I often don't become aware of great writers and their fine books until years after everyone else knows about them. I read Derek B. Miller's How to Find Your Way in the Dark only because it appeared on the NYT's list of The Best Mystery Novels of 2021. I liked it a lot, which sent me to Amazon's author page, and snapped up a used copy of this, his first book. Right on the front cover, the NYT review blurb says it "has the brains of a literary novel and the body of a thriller." True.

How to Find Your Way in the Dark told the story of young Sheldon Horowitz, born in the mid-1920s. Norwegian by Night, published in 2012, is (mostly) the story of old Sheldon Horowitz, age 82. He's living in Norway with granddaughter Rhea and her husband Lars. In the first few pages we learn that he's widowed. His son, Saul (Rhea's father) was killed in Vietnam. It takes him "an hour to pee." Rhea suspects dementia. But another theory is: he's haunted by people and events from his past: his own as a Marine in Korea, and his son's in Vietnam.

But the thriller part is kicked off when an abused single mother knocks at his door with her young son, begging for a safe refuge. But she quickly becomes a victim of violence, and Sheldon takes it on himself to shelter the boy. They set off on a perilous journey, chased by the bad guys. Along the way, Sheldon's secrets are gradually revealed to us.

All that sounds like the book is a total downer. Not true! As with How to Find Your Way in the Dark, the book mixes in solid humor along the way. Particularly comic: the Norwegian police investigation, led by Sigrid Ødegård, who's apparently the main character of the next Miller book I'm going to read.

Last Modified 2024-01-16 4:54 AM EDT