With a theme of guilt and whether we can ever overcome it, Derek B. Milller’s debut novel Norwegian by Night is a summertime thriller with something to say.
I found myself mesmerized by the central character Sheldon Horowitz, a decorated war hero from the Korean war who is forced to live in Norway with his granddaughter Rhea, an architect, and her Norwegian husband Lars, a video game developer. He is not a happy camper living in a foreign country but does so because everyone thinks he is starting to lose his memory.
As the story unfolds, Sheldon is in total control of his wits after he is unwittingly involved in a murder case involving his neighbor and her son. He is forced to take care of the woman’s son and must avoid being captured by a band of ex-KLA soldiers that are out to get back the child. We find out that the child was born from a rape by one of the ex-KLA soldiers named Enver. It was an act of revenge for the horrors brought on by Serbians during the war.
If this weren’t enough for Sheldon to deal with he is also having flashbacks of guilt from the death of his son Saul who he encouraged to enlist in the Vietnam War. Saul ends up doing two tours of duty and is killed by a landmine on his second tour. Sheldon uses his military skills to escape from Enver and make sure that this son who he names Paul get through this “war” uninjured. Also chasing Sheldon are two detectives named Sigrid and Petter who are trying to figure out if Sheldon is involved in the murder. The conclusion of the novel is filled with visions from Sheldon and what he needs to do to make sure that this story has a happy ending and possibly relieve him from the guilt of letting his son go off to war.
This all may sound heavy for a summertime thriller but just like a Scandinavian summer night , you may find yourself turning the pages throughout the night and never realize that the light you are seeing outside your window is actually the morning. A stunning debut.