Cursed is the 4th book in Thomas Enger‘s superior Henning Juul series. The series begins with Burned, followed by Pierced, Scarred, Cursed and finally ending with just published Killed. These are books that I personally feel need to be read in order. Throughout the series the main protagonist, internet news reporter Henning Juul, searches for the people he feels are responsible for the fire in his flat that left him deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically, and that claimed the life of his 6 year old son, Jonas. Although each book stands alone in terms of the main story, this arc is always running in the background, with breadcrumbs (and even the odd loaf of bread), laid though each book. It is this element that makes this series so compelling to read. Henning is a highly likeable and sympathetic character, a man driven to extremes to discover the truth and taking the reader along with him.
In Cursed, Henning continues his search for answers, delving further into the shadowy Oslo underground crime scene – a course of action that brings further physical pain and attempts on his life. Meanwhile his ex-wife, Nora, is investigating the disappearance of an old friend, Hedda Hellberg, which appears to be linked to the murder of a Swedish man at the time of her disappearance. Over the course of the book their two separate investigations appear to have more and more in common, bringing them closer together once again.
Thomas Enger is a master of the drip feed suspense. He tells you, the reader, just enough to ensure that you continue reading. Nothing is superfluous; everything matters. Along the course of the four books so far Henning has grown as a character, as have the characters around him. Some come and go more than others; I missed Henning’s booming, Tourette suffering boss Kåre Hjeltland this time around, and Detective Bjane Brogeland barely gets a look in either, but other characters, such as Nora and Geir Grønningen, are given their time to shine.
As with every book so far Enger leaves you on a cliff edge; the very last sentence dragging you kicking and screaming into the next book. I’ll tell you what, I’m very glad that I’ve come into this series late, because if I had to wait for months between books I would have strung someone up!
Cursed is a fantastic book; dark, thrilling and suspenseful. It takes its time, it doesn’t rush, but the last 100 pages or so are a real thrill ride as Nora, Henning and Iver….well, I’m not going to spoil it here, am I? 😉
5/5 Highly recommended.