THE COURIER | Kjell Ola Dahl
03.21.2019 | Orenda Books
Rating: 4/5 stars
In 1942, Jewish newspaper courier Ester Lemkov finds herself betrayed by the resistance forces she is working with and narrowly avoiding arrest. She not only feels her own life at jeopardy, but watches as her father is dragged from their family store and their home is vandalized. In order to save herself, Ester must leave behind those she loves and make a new start in Sweden. Her family back in Oslo is fated to be deported to Auschwitz.
Ester’s time in Stockholm brings her a reunion with Gerhard Falkum, a resistance hero who has had to leave behind his infant daughter and flee Oslo after his wife is found murdered. Gerhard is suspect number one in the death of his wife, Ase, who is also Ester’s childhood friend. He maintains his innocence. As Ester grows closer to Gerhard, he is removed from her life when he dies in a fire.
Twenty-five years later, Ester receives news that Gerhard Falkum is not only alive, but he is in Oslo. Gerhard claims that he has returned to reconnect with his daughter, but Ester is not convinced. Not only can she not figure out his end goal, but she also can’t figure out where he’s been all this time. Ester is determined to get to the bottom of the lies Gerhard seems to leave in his wake. Will she want the truth once she has it?
Death leaves no space for trivialities.
THE COURIER unpacks a multi-layered story about Ester Lemkov’s life. The story initially opens in 2015, where we meet a woman tracking down a bracelet she says belonged to her mother. That story is immediately segwayed back to 1942 and 1967, as two alternating storylines take centerstage revealing a lifetime of events that will ultimately link back to 2015.
The two narratives of 1942 and 1967 tell stories from Ester’s past and are ultimately linked together because of Gerhard, who she thought died in 1942, but has now returned in 1967. The events of each story intertwine with each other in order to reveal the truth behind events between Ester and Gerhard that have haunted them for twenty-five years. I loved how each story worked perfectly as a standalone, but ultimately fed off of each other to create a compelling tale of crime fiction.
Kjell Ola Dahl has a flawless way with words, where he can bring to life the streets of any city before the reader’s eyes. The atmospheric quality of Dahl’s writing truly made this story all the more captivating. In conjunction to this element, Dahl also succeeds in creating multi-faceted characters that the reader instantly connects with, be it through pity, anger, or compassion. Dahl made it easy to understand the motives behind character’s actions in present and past scenarios. While I might have been in the dark as the mystery was unraveling, Dahl writes with a reassuring quality that I could feel that answers were always right around the corner.
THE COURIER is a work of crime fiction with a compelling historical aspect that truly helps make it stand out in a crowded genre. This slow-burn, atmospheric tale is one that will transport you to another time and another way of life. Lovers of several genres can expect to find something for them within these pages.
Disclaimer: Thank you Orenda Books for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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