The Cabin (Cold Case Quartet 2) by Jørn Lier Horst

Holding the baby…

😦 😦

When former leading politician Bernhard Klausner dies, his colleague is astonished to discover a huge stash of cash hidden in his cabin. Because of the political sensitivity the Chief of Police asks Inspector William Wisting to carry out a confidential investigation to find out where the cash came from. Wisting does what any top police officer asked to investigate a sensitive case would naturally do – he tells the whole story to his journalist daughter and asks her to help with the investigation, clearly feeling that the entire resources of the Norwegian police force which have been put at his disposal for the case simply won’t be as competent as a jobbing free lance reporter with babysitter issues. Meantime, Amalie, the baby in question, entertains us all with her charming baby ways throughout the entire book. Gosh.

As you will gather, the idea of Wisting involving his daughter in a sensitive case blew the story way over the credibility line even before it started, but I persevered. Just like Amalie did when she struggled to complete her ten-piece jigsaw with a picture of a cow on it. Next thing we know Wisting decides the safest place to keep the vast haul of cash is, no, not in some police security vault or even in a bank, but in his own basement. I began to wonder if the Norwegian police force is actually a professional one at all, or maybe it’s modelled on a Toytown version. Then, because his daughter Line is investigating the case for him, Wisting stays at home to babysit Amalie, as you do. Amalie likes to have her tinned stew mushed up for her, by the way – isn’t that adorable?

Jørn Lier Horst

The initial premise is interesting, but the storytelling reduces it to an overlong, repetitive and highly confusing account of every detail of the investigation. The reader will follow Line or one of the police investigators as they interview a witness or read some reports and then that investigator will report what we’ve just read to Wisting so we get to read it all for a second time. The investigation barely moves for the first 60% of the book, with them simply confirming information that was already in the police files and speculating endlessly about the same things over and over. Meantime, Amalie plays games on Grandpa’s iPad – the one he uses for accessing confidential police files.

The last 40% might be brilliant. I wouldn’t know since I skimmed it to find out whodunit, or rather whodunwhat. But when I focussed back in at 90% only to find Amalie had woken up from a nap and was calling for her Mummy, I decided to leave them all to it. Now I’ll never know what the plot was about, and d’you know? I’m fine with that.

Recommended for people who are desperate to know if Amalie managed to complete her jigsaw. But not so much for people who like crime novels to have an air of credibility, some forward momentum, a decent pace and no babies.

My hero…

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Penguin UK – Michael Joseph.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

41 thoughts on “The Cabin (Cold Case Quartet 2) by Jørn Lier Horst

  1. Way to go! – Another one that won’t be joining my TBR pile – my blood pressure certainly wouldn’t survive a ‘mystery’ book so full of nonsense. I can not abide the current trend for story lines packed out with incessant & irrelevant details of domestic trivia, car journeys etc & plots based around utterly ridiculous actions by supposedly intelligent (or at least responsible) people in authority.

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    • I’m glad it’s not just me! I get so bored with it all, and if it’s going to be a police procedural I do want it to seem realistic! All these beautifully short, unpadded vintage crime novels that just get on with the plot have spoiled me, I think… 😉

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  2. I must admit, I actually quite like Domestic Fiction if wel written, and I also enjoy Police Proceedurals, but I don’t think they work well when forced together. I’ve ended up reading a few such novels, and my final impression has always been of a story which didn’t quite know what it was trying to be or say. I wonder where this craze for hybrid genres has come from?

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    • I’m not much into domestic fiction in general, but it just all felt so out of place and unnecessary crammed into a police procedural. I don’t really want hundreds of pages of tedious police procedures, but I do think they have to have some level of credibility, and the police officer babysitting while his journalist daughter investigated was too ludicrous for me! I wonder how much these books really appeal beyond die-hard contemproary crime fans – my theory is that the huge rise in popularity of vintage crime is because so many crime readers are fed up with what’s on the market at the moment.

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  3. So…let me guess, FictionFan. You weren’t excited to follow all of Amalie’s doings? You didn’t think it was such a good idea to put that money in a basement? That’s the sort of hint I’m picking up from your post – perhaps I’m wrong… 😉 In all seriousness, it’s always such a balance between a protagonist’s personal and professional lives. Sometimes the author goes a bit too far one way or the other. And I’m with you on the credibility thing…

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    • You can see right through my subtle attempts to hide my feelings, can’t you? 😉 I know I’m off contemporary crime in general at the moment, but honestly, the idea that the police officer would stay home and babysit while his journalist daughter investigated the crime on his behalf was just too ludicrous…

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  4. Yes, I want to know if that puzzle was completed. Perhaps they used the money in the basement to buy Amalie her own iPad. Then having discovered her brilliance, they put the rest in her university fund. Because that was secretly what the dead guy wanted–to ensure Amalie’s future.

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  5. *chuckling with glee* I do love reading reviews like this when you so clearly hate the book — well done, FF! Gee, what was the author thinking? I imagine he must have been enthralled with little Amalie, but it’s pretty obvious you weren’t. I realize an entire book needs a cast of characters, but perhaps wee ones don’t belong in such as this. Treat yourself to some chocolate, m’dear — you’ve earned it!

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    • Hahaha – some books do seem to bring out my sarcastic side! 😉 Amalie was annoying but it was even more annoying that the author expected us to believe that the police officer stayed home to babysit while his daughter investigated his case for him! Bring in the family by all means, but it has to be done believably!

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  6. Great review! 😂 I’m not the biggest fan of babies/children in real life (gasp!!!), so the thought of being entertained by Amalie throughout this novel doesn’t do much for me. Let’s hope she finished the jigsaw.

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    • I actually read the book before this one and enjoyed it, so I think it’s this book that’s the problem rather than the entire series. Maybe he’s just had a grandchild of his own and thinks we’ll all be as enthralled by baby behaviour as he is… 😉

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  7. Oh, no this sounds terrible! And very unrealistic. I certainly hope you can’t deduct too much about the Norwegian police force by reading crime fiction, from Jo Nesboe’s books, you might get the impression, they are borderline insane!

    P.S. Did Amalie manage to complete her jigsaw? 😉

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    • Yes, the baby stuff annoyed me, but it was really the ridiculousness of how the police investigation was portrayed that made it a huge fail for me. I do think that police procedurals have lost touch with reality in recent years!

      Haha – she did! On the very last page! Isn’t that so sweet? 😫

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    • It is, but he’s written about 22 in the series, I think, and I actually enjoyed the only other one I’ve read, so I suspect this one is just a blip in an otherwise good series. I was thinking of watching it too…

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  8. Hahaha! Your review is fantastic, sorry the book is so far from it. I have a hunch that you do not actually hate children but I can see why you might not want one doing puzzles in the middle of a thriller. Your whole review makes me feel like the author must have just become a grandfather for the first time and has completely lost his head over it.

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    • Hahaha! By the time I’d finished with poor little Amalie I was about ready to ban children altogether, but I’ve recovered now… 😉 That’s exactly what I suspected – it was definitely written as if he was reporting every cute thing a child he loved was doing, which would have been very sweet if only it hadn’t been in the middle of a police procedural!

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  9. BAHAHAHAH this was brilliant. I highly enjoyed your review of this book, but the book itself sounds terrible, no wonder you DNF. It’s so disappointing when highly unlikely events occur in mysteries, it makes you question why you’re even bothering in the first place…

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    • Hahaha – sometimes you just have to let the bitterness out before it eats you up from inside… 😉 Yes, if you don’t want to write about police procedures then don’t write a police procedural! And especially not one with a baby in it…

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