Burned Review
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In mystery novels, sleuths take on all kinds of forms—from hard-nosed cops to lovable little old ladies. But, in his first novel, Norwegian journalist turned author Thomas Enger introduces readers to a crime solver who makes perfect sense: troubled online journalist Henning Juul.

Henning’s life fell apart two years ago, when a fire destroyed his apartment and killed his six-year-old son, Jonas. Since then, he’s been nursing his physical and emotional wounds.

Now, on his first day back to work, Henning is forced to face another untimely death. College student and aspiring filmmaker Henriette Hagerup has been brutally murdered—seemingly the victim of an honor killing—and Henning is assigned to the story. To the police, it seems like a simple case, and as soon as they have Henriette’s Muslim boyfriend in custody, they’re ready to move on. But Henning isn’t satisfied, so he continues to investigate, only to find himself in danger.

  
 
Burned is a multi-faceted mystery, taking readers on an investigative journey that travels from college campuses to press conferences, coming into contact with shady businessmen, competitive young filmmakers, and some shadowy sources. As in real life, the answers aren’t simple—and the deeper you get into the mystery, the more complex it becomes.

Henning Juul is a likeable main character—a grieving father who’s haunted by the accident that left him with scars (both physical and emotional) that will never go away. His situation is made even worse by the fact that he’s forced to work with his ex-wife’s new hotshot reporter boyfriend—and you can’t help but feel sorry for him while rooting for him to come out on top in the end.

At the same time, though, Henning has quite a dark, storied history. He’s got coworkers, an ex-wife, and a tragic accident in his past—and it takes a while to take it all in. Although Enger fills in a few details of the fire that changed the reporter’s life, you might sometimes feel as if you’re missing something—like an earlier book about the character. Still, you’ll get to know him gradually as you read—and, though there’s still a lot to learn about the character, you’ll like him anyway.

Unfortunately, not all of the characters are as likeable as Henning. His old classmate, Detective Inspector Bjarne Brogeland, seems to be more interested in trying to seduce his pretty blonde partner than in trying to solve the case. His willingness to work together with Henning redeems the character a bit, but his overactive hormones make for a frustrating distraction.

Despite a few character flaws, however, Thomas Enger’s Burned is a gritty thriller with a sympathetic hero who’s worth meeting—because, as Henning begins to dig into his own past, subsequent books in the series are sure to get even better.

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