Welcome to the nbmagazine.co.uk stop on the blog tour for Thomas Enger’s Inborn!

Here’s a little info about the book:

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect? It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust. But can we trust him?

A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?.

And about author Thomas Enger:

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, and another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the same prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jørn Lier Horst. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

And here’s Paul Burke’s review of Inborn:

Fans of the Henning Juul series will be aware of just how good a writer Thomas Enger is, his novels are intelligent and emotionally aware and Inborn is no exception. I confess I was a little bit worried about reading a thriller that started life as a YA novel, but this story has an intensity and psychological depth that make it gripping. Inborn is on a par with the Henning Juul series, which is among the very best of Nordic crime fiction. Strong on character, setting, plotting and social commentary; all essential elements of a good modern noir.

Everyone has experienced the passion teenagers feel for the things they love or hate – then there is the intensity of first love! But is the break up with his girlfriend enough to turn Even Tolletsen into a brutal killer? Two murders have been committed, the violence is terrifying for the small community of Fredheim. The locals are polarised in their opinions of who did it, the finger is pointed at several suspects early on in the investigation. Thomas Enger’s novels ask challenging questions about the reasons for such a vicious crime in a modern ordered society. He is interested in the trauma of a tragic murder on individuals and the wider community and how people react to the crime. He explores the darker side of Norway’s affluent, settled society, the secrets people keep (sins of the past?). Inborn is both a thrilling and emotional story because of its insight into human behaviour. The school murders in the novel are heart rending. This is a reflection of our worst fears for the safety of our children because tragedy can happen – anywhere, anytime. Inborn is a commentary on society’s problems, a scrutiny of our values, readers will face uncomfortable truths about the world of adults and family breakdown. Of course, there are no glib answers here but Enger has sought to help us see the crime and, more importantly, the criminal.

Johannes Eklund thinks he is the last person in the building, he has just played the school bash, he’s on a high, his mind buzzing with dreams of girls and a school free future – stardom. But Johannes opens the wrong door, he isn’t the only person here and he is terrified by what he sees, he runs for his life. He makes the stairs as a hand grabs him, he falls and the blows reign down. The next morning the caretaker finds his battered body, blood everywhere. Detective Yngve Mork and the police discover a second body, that of sixteen-year-old Mari Lindgren, in one of the rooms upstairs. Naturally, Even Tolletsen comes under suspicion; until a few days before the murders he and Mari were going out, then she suddenly broke it off. Even hasn’t had the most stable of upbringings, his mother is an alcoholic, his father died in a car crash years before. Rivalries and rumours start to circulate, social media posts accuse Even of the crime. When it emerges that Mari was looking into the death of Even’s father the past is raked over, but what can an old accident have to do with the tragic school incident? As Mork investigates a web of lies stretching back years come to light. The story unfolds on two seamless timelines (then and now). Firstly, the murder and it’s aftermath and, secondly, the later appearance of Even in court. As Even gives his testimony we wonder is he a reliable narrator? Could this boy really be a killer?

The chapters in Inborn are short and sharp, it keeps both strands of the story moving at a cracking pace. In the aftermath of the school murders people desperately try to keep their secrets hidden, the killing is not over. For reasons that will become apparent to you as you read the court room coverage is cleverly constructed to draw the maximum tension out of the story. Although the novel is complex it’s very readable and the need to know what really happened on that fateful night in the school grips like a vice.

Both Even, the suspect, and Yngve Mork, the policeman, are really interesting characters. Even is a compelling storyteller, Mork is balancing his own personal tragedy with trying to be a good policeman but this is a testing case. His patient measured detective work, the kind of investigation that smacks of real police work, gives an authenticity to the novel. This is a serious topic and that demands a novel that doesn’t exploit the story to increase dramatic effect. The revelations flow naturally within the story there is no court room ta-da moment, although there is a clever sleight of hand to watch out for. Kari Dickson deserves a mention for her role in translating Inborn.

Enger is the author of the Henning Juul series which opened with Burned in 2010, the whole series is now essential Nordic noir. I would thoroughly recommend Inborn as an exciting and thought-provoking novel.

Paul Burke 4/4

Inborn by Thomas Enger
Orenda Books 9781912374472 pbk Feb 2019