Book review: The Human Flies

The Human Flies coverI bought this novel when traveling in Norway. Embarrassingly, aside from Ibsen (whom I love), I’m completely ignorant about Norwegian writers.

I know Norway boasts thriller writers, such as Nesbo, who fill the book shops, but I was looking for something different and picked up this debut mystery novel by contemporary author Hans Olav Lahlum.

The cover reviews promised an ‘Agatha Christie-style locked door mystery’, and this was exactly what the author delivered.

It was a plus that the story was set in 1968 Oslo, and dealt with a city – and nation – coming to grips with life and economic growth after World War II and complicated reactions ranging from guilt to silence regarding instances of collaboration during the Nazi occupation of Norway. This is the interesting historical backdrop to the mystery.

Young detective Kolbjørn Kristiansen- also known as K2 – gets called into a murder case. In Oslo, on 25 Krebs Street, a well-known Resistance fighter and national hero has been murdered. The residents of 25 Krebs Street will all become suspects as the investigation centers there. Kristiansen involves wheelchair-bound, mystery-novel-devouring Patricia on the case. Conveniently, Patricia craves the intellectual challenge of solving the case, but does not want to share the spotlight, which proves advantageous to Kristiansen.

I enjoyed the locked-door nature of the mystery (the classic whodunnit tale), the investigation centering around the quirky residents of 25 Krebs Street, and all the interesting historical background about Nazi-occupation era Norway that is revealed throughout the novel. A very good read, and the first of a series.


  1. The Past Due Book Review on September 1, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    This sounds very intriguing; I have become increasingly interested in Norway after making a friend from there in college, but I haven’t read much of their literature. This sounds like a good place to start. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • kimberlysullivan on September 2, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Hope you’ll enjoy it! I found a lot of historical details about post-war Oslo quite interesting. Like you, I definitely have to discover more contemporary Norwegian writers. Happy reading!

  2. Chris Galvin on September 15, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Sounds like a good read for a long flight. Mystery novels are perfect for passing the time, and the historical details you mention make this one appealing.

    • kimberlysullivan on September 15, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      Agree with you, Chris. Enjoyed this novel a lot, and also learned a lot about the post-War years in Oslo, and how the ‘next generation’ in the 60s struggled to come to terms with the Nazi occupation. A nice touch that I started reading it in (ultra) modern Oslo.: )

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