American By Day

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Caveat lector: this 2018 book by Derek B. Miller is a sequel to 2012's Norwegian By Night. I recommend you read that before you read this. (It's also set in the same universe as Miller's How to Find Your Way in the Dark, but you have my permission to read that one anytime you want.)

The protagonist here is Norwegian police detective Sigrid Ødegård. She's sort of troubled by her actions in that preceding book, although she's been exonerated from any wrongdoing by an official investigation. She is tasked by her father to go track down her estranged brother, Marcus, who has been living in America for years. And is now missing. She's reluctant, but the ticket has been purchased, and her dad insists, so…

Sigrid's investigation takes her to upstate New York, where she meets the unconventional sheriff Irving Wylie. And she finds out there might be a very good reason why Marcus is absent: the police really want to question him in the death of his girlfriend, Lydia. It turns out to matter that Lydia was black, and distraught over the police shooting of her nephew, Jeffrey. A child who was playing with a cap pistol. This has caused considerable racial tensions in the community.

And, as it turns out, sad events from Sigrid's and Marcus's childhood might be key to figuring out Marcus's current behavior.

This all sounds pretty grim, and it is, but Derek Miller brings (as usual) a considerable amount of humor. Sigrid's odd-couple interactions with Irving are particularly funny. (At least I think so, but my Norwegian-American genes might predispose me that way.) Such a mix is difficult to bring off, but Miller does a topnotch job.

It's one of the books I found myself imagining the cast of the FX miniseries. Let's see… Steven Root for Sheriff Wylie… except younger. Hollly Hunter for Sigrid… except younger. And Sigourney Weaver playing Sigourney Weaver, except youn… no, you know what? Current-day Sigourney would be just great.

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:26 AM EDT