The Last Fix (original title En liten gyllen ring), by Norwegian author Kjell Ola Dahl, is another installment in his series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda and his assistant Frank Frølich. It is actually the second crime novel in this series – the English tranlations are out of sequence. It has won the Riverton Prize (Riverton-prisen) 2000 for Best Norwegian Crime Novel of the Year, was nominated for the Brage Literary Prize (Brage-prisen) 2000 for Best Norwegian Literary Novel of the Year, The Glass Key (Glasnyckeln) 2000 for Best Nordic Crime Novel of the Year and the Martin Beck Award 2001 for Best Foreign Crime Novel of the Year.
This suspenseful thriller starts with the killing of a young woman, found brutally murdered. The evening before, Katrine Bratterud was at a party in a collective for drug abusers, where she was just finishing her treatment. However, at this point she was clean and had a good job. She disappeared from the party in a car. The last thing she sees is a naked man approaching from out of the woods. Why did she disappear? And why did she have to die?
Gunnarstranda and Frølich have a tough case to solve. Maybe even a case that cannot be solved, as there are few leads. The investigation is hard and time consuming, and with few to go on they soon start to focus on possible motives. Is Katrine’s past as an addict the key to the crime?
The Last Fix is a good, well plotted, suspenseful police procedural, and has lots of interesting details of a modern police procedure. It is, to my taste maybe a little too full of moralistic clichés about modern society, and also to some extent a little vulgar in its use of language. However, this is the style of K.O. Dahl and not due to the translator, Don Bartlett, who seems to me to have done an excellent job. On the other hand, the novel also has some interesting psychological insights, entertaining understatements and dry humor. The end is great.
(This book is currently not available in the US.)