The e-book version of Those Who Follow (Wienerbrorskapet) is the bestselling backlist novel of 2016.
Those Who Follow, the first installment in the Fredrik Beier series that was released in Norway in 2015, is the bestselling backlist e-book novel of 2016 in Norway, reports book-magazine Bok & Samfunn.
The second thriller in the series, As we Fall (Norwegian title: Kalypso), is also doing very well among the releases of 2016, currently number 7 on the top ten list.
Deutschland / Germany / Tyskland spring / summer of 2017.
Earlier this year I wrote a short piece to my Finnish readers. The story about how a hero from the Winter War became an inspiration for Those Who
Follows might be of interest for others as well, so here it is.
In 2002 I had just started out as a political reporter for the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang. That autumn I was sent to the Nordic Council meeting in Helsinki, where politicians from all the Nordic countries meet, drink cheap wine and eat finger food, while they discuss what a union between the Nordic countries should have been like. It was one of my first trips abroad as a journalist.
I do not remember much from the meetings themselves. Believe me, it was not that kind of meetings. But one memory is still vivid.
I was in a bookstore. I’ve always enjoyed the company of books. It does not really matter whether I understand the language or not. For then I have to look at the stories outside novels. Their covers. The posters in the windows, the newspaper at the sales counter and listen to the the low-key conversation between shelves. Such can say a lot about the country you are visiting. Its culture, its people, its political debates and their latest diet trends.
I think it was a book cover, but it might have been a newspaper. It was a picture of an elderly man wearing a black suit and with medals on his chest. His chin was crooked and his round eyes small as pennies, but with a sight clear as glass. Then I read his name. Simo Häyhä.
Back in Norway I read more about this Finish hero from the Winter War, that raged between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939 – 1940. His story fascinated me. A sober farm boy, who turned into an elite marksman, facing the massive Soviet army. The numbers vary, but most sources claim that Häyhä killed more than 500 Soviet soldiers. That makes him the deadliest sniper in history. The Soviets nicknamed him The White Death. He was injured in the final days of the war, fell into a coma and woke up when it was all over. The bullet that hit him crushed his jaw and destroyed his cheek.
Many years later someone asked him how he became so good at shooting. «Practice» was his short, to the point, reply.
I decided that if I one day was going to write a novel, Simo Häyhä would find his way into it.
Staffan Häyhä, the antagonist from Those Who Follow, has a personality completely different from real life Simo Häyhä. Staffan is no hero. But he carries some of the same physical features. He has the same extreme determination which I believe is required when confronted by a superior enemy. Both are snipers. And the name, obviously. A badly disguised easter egg for those interested in military history.
Six weeks ago the second part of the Fredrik Beier-saga was released in Norway. Now the reviews are coming in. And they are better than I dared dream.
When I had read 100 pages of this novel, I thought that the author had taken on more than he could chew. After 300 pages I was sure; the author must have to use some easy tricks to get this through. But after 470 pages, the only thing I could do was to conclude that Johnsrud was in control, all the way through, writes the regional newspaper Fædrelandsvennen, and awards Kalypso (English title As We Fall) six out of six stars.
Out of the nine national and regional Norwegian newspapers that have reviewed Kalypso, three have awarded Beier#2 six out of six stars, four have awarded it five out of six, and one (Dagbladet), four out of six. The largest daily, Aftenposten, does not give out stars, but states:
Last year’s debut Wienerbrorskapet (Those Who Follow) demonstrated that Ingar Johnsrud is master of the vast majority of tricks when it comes to muscular action prose. /…/ The depiction of the past’s shadow falling over a snow-covered pre-Christmas Oslo, from its Russian embassy to a bomb shelter in Old Town, undeniably does something to the reader’s heart rate. Johnsrud writes succinctly, in detail, and above all well within the premises of the genre.
And here’s a few more:
Ingar Johnsrud continues to deliver crime fiction at absolute international top level. /…/ Johnsrud showcases a literary talent of the highest order – he’s smart, precise and varied in his language.
It isn’t often that an author succeeds in maintaining the level of suspense throughout an entire book, but Ingar Johnsrud does. As We Fall possesses an intense tension and momentum from the first till last page. /…/ Jo Nesbø and Jørn Lier Horst ought to look out for Johnsrud, who is emerging as the great star of Norwegian thriller and crime fiction literature.
Johnsrud plays with genres and stereotypes and succeeds in adding something new and fresh. The book is well written, the peaks in the action many and excellent, the switch between the different eras perfect, and all of it is put together with greater precision even than in the debut.
The prose, which impressed also in the debut novel, is still excellent. Johnsrud writes effectively and grippingly. /…/ The plot is tied together nicely, with a set of plot threads that are gathered beautifully.
There is blood, gore and body fluids, internal rivalry in the police force, classic tension between protagonist and assistant, and an intrigue much like a puzzle, just as there should be in suspense novels. And all of it is steered by the supremely clever hand of this crime fiction writer.
[In Ingar Johnsrud] we have found a promising new crime fiction author. /…/ There is much to be impressed with in [As We Fall].
«Muskuløs handlingsprosa» Aftenposten
I Wienerbrorskapet måtte Fredrik Beier søke i mellomkrigsårene og datidens rasebiologiske forskning og grusomme eksperimentering på mennesker for å finne svarene han jaktet. I Kalypso er også historien en viktig ingrediens.
Men denne gangen må Fredrik lete tettere på vår egen samtid. I ukene og månedene som fulgte etter at Sovjetunionen brøt sammen, og det russiske maktapparatet lå med brukket rygg.
Most posts here are in English. This is an exception, due to the release of "As We Fall" ("Kalypso"), the second novel in the Beier-series in Norway this August.
Hvem var det egentlig som rådet over Sovjetunionens gigantiske arsenal av atomvåpen, kjemiske og biologiske våpen, i tiden før det nye statsapparatet fikk kontroll. Hva skjedde på de topphemmelige russiske militærinstallasjonene, når soldatene som var satt til å vokte dem deserterte, vitenskapsfolkene ble gående uten lønn og det ikke fantes midler til vedlikehold?
I Kalypso spiller hendelser under et oppdrag utført av den norske Marinejegerkommandoen (MJK) en viktig rolle. Men mens MJK i dag er en stor organisasjon, med tung erfaring fra skarpe oppdrag ute i verden, var MJK anno 1992 noe ganske annet. Topptrente soldater, men de var langt færre, og siden fienden den gangen var Sovjetunionen, var MJK-troppene aldri brukt i strid.
For å skildre livet i MJK på den tiden, har jeg benyttet meg av mange ulike kilder. Jeg har lyst til å dele en av dem, denne sjeldne nyhetsdokumentaren produsert for TV2 i 1993. Fra den gangen MJK fortsatt benyttet seg av AG3 og MP5. Fra den gangen et soundtrack virkelig sugde.
«Johnsrud showcases a literary talent of the highest order – he’s smart, precise and varied in his language,» writes Norway’s largest newspaper Verdens Gang in their review of Kalypso.
And they continue: «Add to this a storyline that gives new meaning to the clichéd expression “unputdownable,” and the conclusion is a given: it’s an obvious six stars also this time around.»
Six out of six stars! I am happy and proud but most of all grateful to all the talented people who have read and shared their thoughts and ideas in the process of writing Kalypso. Øyvind, my editor at Aschehoug, Karin & Julia, my agents at Salomonsson Agency and many others. Thank you for the cooperation, guys.
I won’t stop bragging just yet. This is what Tvedestrandsposten, from the southern part of Norway, says:
«It isn’t often that an author succeeds in maintaining the level of suspense throughout an entire book, but Ingar Johnsrud does. As We Fall possesses an intense tension and momentum from the first till last page. It’s truly difficult to put it down. /…/ The ability to engage the reader and the art of relaying multiple stories going on in different times, only to weave them together in a frightening and ingenious manner.» 6 out of 6 stars there as well.
As We Fall, you might ask. Yeah. Kalypso has gotten baptized, and As We Fall will be it’s English title.
It is still early, and many reviews to come, but let me also share two blogs discussing Kalypso/As We Fall. The first one is written by the author and blogger Geir Tangen. The second one is from Den Kriminelle Bokverden. (They are both in Norwegian.)
This weekend I am looking forward to visiting the lovely Swedish island Gotland, and their litterature festival Crimetime Gotland, that I have heard so many great things about. Those Who Follow have just been released in Swedish, and this is the verdict, when Akademibokhandeln, a mayor Swedish chain of bookstores, asked four of their readers.
Do you read Norwegian? Then you can get a taste of Kalypso here: