Kjell Ola Dahl: The Assistant

Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for The Assistant. My review is written with thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and to Orenda Books for my copy of the book.


Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.

Both a fascinating portrait of Oslo’s interwar years, with Nazis operating secretly on Norwegian soil and militant socialists readying workers for war, The Assistant is also a stunningly sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hard-boiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

For fans of Sebastian Faulks, Lars Mytting, Mick Herron and Robert Harris.


The first thing I noticed about The Assistant is the beautiful writing style. Even the simplest ideas are described with so much detail that it was really easy to become involved in what was happening. The Assistant is a translated work, but it flows wonderfully and never feels clumsy so the translator must be praised for this.

The Assistant is set in two different time frames, in 1924-25 and 1938-39. These are historical periods I do not know much about, particularly in Norway and it was interesting to see how the interwar years affected the country. Dahl has obviously researched the period in a lot of detail and evokes the mood of the time really well.

The central, titular character in The Assistant is Jack. He’s not always on the right side of the law but this didn’t stop me warming to him. His character is well developed and I felt a lot of his emotions with him throughout the novel. There is also a great cast of supporting characters who kept me engaged.

There are several mysteries that make up the plot of The Assistant and I really enjoyed trying to unravel the clues. There are a few surprises along the way and I was really keen to discover the answers.

The Assistant is available from Amazon.

You ccan follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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