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.