Nordic Novelistic Noir by an American


P1070379 (2)I just this moment finished a VERY GOOD BOOK. Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller is not easily definable; it’s a crime novel but only barely; the emphasis is really on story and character, and in no small way on culture and society. And just for good measure there is all sorts of sly humor peaking through everywhere.

Here’s the plot. An elderly Jewish Korean war veteran from New York moves to Norway with his granddaughter and her husband. He is witness to a crime and winds up on an intense if somewhat idiosyncratic journey through the Norwegian countryside with a small boy he calls Paul.

So yes, a slightly unlikely scenario but it all comes off as quite plausible. Thanks in no small part to the character of Sheldon, the elderly Jew who happens to be former Marine sniper. Miller has created a larger-than-life cranky old guy, in turn funny, caustic, possibly delusional, and surprisingly loveable. The silent little boy, pawn of the Serbian/Kosovar crime world, also has a huge presence and personality for someone who never speaks. While the granddaughter Rhea and her Norwegian husband Lars are interesting and endearing in their own ways, they are never primary players.

The other essential character, Sigrid, the police chief inspector, is too wonderful not to appear in more books. She’s a no-nonsense plain-speaking cop with a grand sense of the ironic. I have no reason to believe that Miller plans to become a regular purveyor of Nordic Noir. He is originally from Boston but he had been living in Norway for some time now so he might be prepared to give us more of Sigrid. Actually I hope he gives us more books this good whether they include Sigrid or not.


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