This opener for a new series is a real treat for Scandi-noir lovers. I’ll admit it, this book surprised me, I knew it was my kind of thing but I didn’t know just how much I would enjoy it. It’s a real pleasure to be carried away by a novel that crackles with originality and clever plotting as this one does. I’d been getting a bit blasé about Nordic crime fiction, there’s a lot of stuff being published that is just so-so these days, but this stunning novel has come along and my faith is restored. I would happily recommend Bakkeid to dedicated fans of dark noirish crime fiction, to fans of the psychological thriller, and, equally, to someone who wants to find out why Scandi-noir has such a big reputation. There’s an energy and inventiveness here that shows just how fresh, innovative and edgy the crime genre can be. All the more remarkable because this is a debut, I Will Miss You Tomorrow is accomplished and thoroughly gripping. I don’t know about the next ‘Nordic noir sensation’, it’s too early to say that, but Heine Bakkeid is a real find and I’m already looking forward to seeing more of his character, Thorkild Aske.

Stavanger, Wednesday. Thorkild Aske has never been to the job centre before, he’s convinced the big windows and the ground floor venue are designed to humiliate clients. He takes a ticket, 38, and waits his turn. Employment advisor Iljana, calls Aske to her office and he hands over the letter from the social worker at Stavanger prison. She is part of his interdisciplinary ‘support’ team; an employment advisor, correctional services, a psychiatrist, and a GP. Thorkild was a police officer – a chief inspector in internal affairs, actually, that was until the accident, his girlfriend Frei’s death and his arrest. Could he get back to police work? Iljana asks naively. No, that door is firmly shut. Iljana beats around the bush for a while then asks:

“What do you think about working in a call centre?”

Aske heads home discouraged. Ulf Solstad, his psychiatrist, rings to ask how it went, badly (never mind it’s early, persevere, get your work assessment allowance sorted first). Aske wants to talk about his meds (Sobril, Oxycontin, Neurontin, Risperdal, the anti-depressant). Ulf leaves that hanging, he implies that they could review things but first Aske has to do something for him. He says Frei’s uncle Arne Villmyr and his ex-wife Anniken Moritzen want Aske’s help to find their son, Rasmus. Aske points out he’s not a private detective and he’s just out of prison but Ulf is firm (Anniken is a friend of his), he says Aske needs this too.

Rasmus, a Dane, had moved to the north of Norway to set up an ‘activity’ hotel at a former lighthouse on a remote island. He hasn’t been heard from for five days, since last Friday. The police think he may have gone diving over the weekend and run into trouble, his empty boat washed ashore on Tuesday. The police assume it was an accident, it probably was, but Anniken wants her son’s body back and no one is helping. Aske wants to turn them down but Arne takes him to one side, he owes him for what happened to Frei:

“Give us a grave, Aske,” he says as he put his hands on the door handle. “Yet another grave. Is that so damned much to ask?”

Thorkild Aske is haunted by the death of Frei, and the accident, he is physically and mentally scarred. Frei is the reason he agrees to investigate the disappearance of Rasmus; atonement, acceptance, redemption? When Aske arrives at Rasmus’ lighthouse things take a sinister turn. He is alone on the island as a body washes up on the shore but it’s not Rasmus, it’s an unknown woman, and then that body disappears again. The police investigate but others will soon go missing too. A complex and satisfying murder mystery unfolds as Aske’s recent stint in prison and his mental health, he depression, are used against him, ultimately his life is in real danger as he begins to dig away at the secrets under the surface in this apparently quiet isolated community.

I Will Miss You Tomorrow is a psychological drama and a noirish chiller with plenty of atmosphere and a setting that is bleak, empty, cold and unforgiving and perfect for the story. Bakkeid grew up in the rugged landscape of the north of the Norway so he knows what he is writing about. The remoteness and the sea are wonderfully evocative. There are a few lighter moments, even jokes, in a very nuanced noirish tale. Anne Bruce is a fine translator from Norwegian, she has managed to convey the wit and the darkness in this story wonderfully. Thorkild Aske is a great new flawed detective (it’s as much about what goes on inside his head as the action around him). A powerful and exhilarating novel.

Paul Burke 5/4

I Will Miss You Tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid
Raven Books 9781526610775 hbk Nov 2019