I’m Travelling Alone

A bestseller in six countries being published in the UK with a cover like this:

I'm travelling alone.jpg

Safe to say I jumped at the chance of reading a copy and I can officially say I’ve already found one of my top 10 of 2016  and it’s only been a week – it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. With perfect pace, tension and a brilliant cast of characters I can’t wait to see more of, it’s the perfect crime thriller. It’s just out – 31st December and is written by Samuel Bjork. And again – the cover. I would leave it in various rooms of the house over Christmas before I got round to reading it, and every family and friend who visited would pick it up and ask about it.

‘When a six-year-old girl is found dead, hanging from a tree, the only clue the Oslo Police have to work with is an airline tag around her neck. It reads ‘I’m travelling alone’.

Holger Munch, veteran police investigator, is immediately charged with re-assembling his homicide unit. But to complete the team, he must convince his erstwhile partner, Mia Krüger – a brilliant but troubled investigator – to return from the solitary island where she has retreated with plans to take her own life.

Reviewing the evidence, Mia identifies something no one else has noticed – a thin line carved into the dead girl’s fingernail: the number 1. Instinctively, she knows that this is only the beginning. To save other children from the same fate, she must find a way to cast aside her own demons and confront the most terrifying, cold-hearted serial killer of her career…’

It’s classic crime and police procedural, full with haunting characters from the past, some brilliantly unexpected twists and two great leads in Holger Munch and Mia Krueger. Creating a pseudo father-daughter relationship, they’re the pair who don’t always follow the rules, let their emotions run free and follow their hunches. They have their own personal problems which weave into the narrative of the investigation superbly.

It’s the pace of this book which makes it so gripping. At first, you’re confused, faced with these different characters and names you need to remember, not knowing which are important and which you can leave be for a little while. The novel builds slowly, dropping clues and you’re sucked in. We’re working alongside the Violent Crimes team to figure out what is going on and who is to blame, learning as they do which is so captivating. I started figuring out some of the clues just as Mia did, which is always a great feeling (the feeling that makes me consider quitting life as a publicist and going to become a detective), but Bjork’s plot isn’t that simple and a few new twists had me sitting shouting ‘NO’ and ‘IT CAN’T BE’ at the book as my family stared at me worryingly.

I read it in one sitting, slowly at first, before holding the hardback so close to my eyes I was nearly in the book. Page-turning isn’t a good enough word, I just had to know what was going to happen and it’s a book which you’re constantly trying to work out if you ever have to take a break from it. With layers upon layers of sub-plots, subtle hints and personal entanglement, it’s got everything you’d want in a crime novel but certainly stands out from the crowd. It’s unique in it’s characters, the expertly crafted plot and writing and the fresh and interesting setting of Norway.

I’m thrilled it’s the first of a series. I’m not sure how it will be topped, or what comes next for this great duo but I know I’ll be first in line to find out. I can’t wait to find out more about the rest of the team, another aspect of the book that I think is fantastic, with a very TV-crime-team feel to it (I’m a particular fan of Gabriel, the tech-genius). Brilliantly written with a fantastic plot – I’ll eat my hat if it’s not a bestseller here too.

Thanks again to Ben at Transworld for sending me this!

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