Today is my spot on the Blog tour of The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl and guess what?! I have an EXCLUSIVE chapter from this fab book for you all to read!! I have read it and it’s AW-Uh-SOMEE!! I am sure this chapter will tempt you to read the entire book ASAP.
Before you read the extract, take a look at the plot.
In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz.
In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester ’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…
Written with Dahl’s trademark characterisation and clever plotting, The Courier sees one of Norway’s most critically acclaimed authors at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrifying periods of modern history. With its sophisticated storytelling and elegant prose, this stunning and compelling wartime thriller is reminiscent of the writing of John Le Carré and William Boyd.
Kjell Ola Dahl
Translated by Don Bartlett
PUBLICATION DATE: 21 MARCH 2019 | PAPERBACK ORIGINAL | ORENDA BOOKS
She kicks the bulge on the chain guard with her heel, lifts the rear wheel and revolves the pedal once. No scraping sound. Attaches the
suitcase to the luggage rack with leather straps. Tucks her fingers up inside the sleeves of her jumper as she sits on the bike. The temperature must have sunk to zero during the night. Every breath she exhales is a stops. Ester is frozen and alternates between keeping one hand on the
handlebars and one in her jacket pocket. A bell rings. She is passed by two cyclists in a hurry. The pedalling gets her circulation going. Soon she is hot. On the slope down to Bislett she can hold the handlebars with both hands, no problem. The wind catches her hair and her eyes begin to water. A lorry with German soldiers in the back passes. One of them waves to her. She looks down and concentrates on maintaining her speed, which she can do until Hegdehaugsveien starts to rise. She hears the clatter of the tram behind her and moves onto the pavement. Jumps off and waits for the tram to pass before she continues. The day is brighter now, but it is still grey and chilly.
She stands on the pedals for more traction up the hill. She feels hungry. She should have eaten something at Åse’s, but didn’t have the
heart to take food from her. However, she does have food in the cupboard at home. As soon as she thinks about home she has doubts. Could they have changed the lock to the flat? No, they are not that quick, she thinks. There aren’t that many of them. It occurs to her in a flash that they might have used chains and a padlock, as they did with the shop, but she dismisses the idea. She will go in, gorge herself, make a packed lunch and get her clothes. Again she has a nagging doubt. How will they react at the plant nursery if I just roll up? Can’t be helped. I will have to take the risk. I will pass on Dad’s regards. It was him who gave me the man’s name. He had planned that we should all escape together. I will have to say that, tell them what has happened. Now there are only three of us – Mum, Gran and I. Again the self-reproach comes flooding back, and she pedals harder; pedals like a woman possessed to expel these thoughts from her mind.
She looks behind her before crossing over to the other side of the street as she approaches Valkyrie plass. Stands on the pedals and freewheels the remaining metres to the metro station entrance. Places the bike against the brick wall by the staircase going down. She is concentrating, even though her movements are familiar and drilled. She loosens the strap over the suitcase on the luggage rack, feels the same stabbing pain in her stomach she has every time she does this. As always, she thinks someone is watching. Someone has seen everything. Someone has watched her come here on the same days, on her bike, carrying a white cloud. People are going to work. Crowds are waiting at the tram suitcase, rucksack or bag – some collaborator in pursuit of a privilege or more ration vouchers. Someone who is thinking: Her. There’s something funny about her. As always, Ester straightens up and scans her surroundings to locate this spy, but she doesn’t see him, she sees no one. So she takes the suitcase with her down the underground staircase.
On the landing where the stairs divide to lead down to the two platforms, she stops and peers over the wall. The platform to the right is empty. But it shouldn’t be. She doesn’t like what she sees and glances at the station clock.
It is the correct time. The minute hand jumps. Then there is a click in the air, above her shoulder, like someone invisible snapping their fingers. Ester has a nasty feeling and a chill runs down her backbone.
The suitcase is suddenly very heavy.
Ester tells herself it is her; she is early. Warily, she descends the steps to the platform on the right, where the air is raw and there is the usual draught through the tunnel. Her skirt flaps. She walks slowly along the platform to the bench. Sits down. There is total silence, apart from a distant hum from an oncoming train. This is presumably the one she will catch. The one she would have caught if the other woman had been here. So what should she do if the woman doesn’t appear?
Ester lifts her head and stares straight ahead. On the opposite platform there are a few people. One of them is reading a newspaper; a man
is standing with his hands in his pockets. Ester lets her eyes drift to the right and on the bench she sees a woman.
As the woman turns her head, Ester sees it is the one she has been expecting.
Ester stands up and waves.
The woman quickly looks away.
At that moment the roar of forced air and the squeal of brakes grow, and the train bursts into the station and stops in front of Ester.
For an instant there is total silence again until the doors open.
No one gets out.
Something is happening on the opposite platform. Through the carriage windows she sees a man looking at her as he runs back down the platform to the steps.
Then Ester realises what has happened.
Now she will be arrested.
Ester weighs up her options. Back the same way she came? But then she would run straight into the arms of the man who is bounding up the steps on the opposite side. There is only one possibility.
She leaves the suitcase where it is. Breathing heavily, legs like jelly, she walks across the platform and into the carriage.
The train is still stationary.
She hears the man’s footsteps on the stairs. The clatter gets louder.
His steps are a drumbeat. Getting louder and louder.
Ester glances at the sliding door between compartments. But she doesn’t dare turn her back on the drumming feet. She stands looking out at the staircase. A foot appears and a breeches-clad leg.
With a thud the doors slam shut.
The carriage jerks as it moves off. It trundles forwards, slowly, much too slowly. Now the man is on the platform and looking straight at Ester through the glass door as she backs against the opposite wall. She meets his cold eyes as he bangs his fists on the door, but the train doesn’t stop. The man runs alongside the carriage, banging on the door, but now the speed of the train is greater than that of the man. The distance between the man and the carriage increases. Then the carriage is in the tunnel and in darkness.
Ester grabs a strap hanging from the ceiling to prevent herself from falling. She can taste blood in her mouth. There is a bang and Ester’s knees give way.
It is the conductor opening the door to the compartment. Legs apart, wearing a uniform. He asks where she is going.
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.
Twitter ~ @ko_dahl
About the Publisher:
Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been shortor long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.
Sooo? Did you guys enjoy the chapter as much as I did? Really hope I’ve tempted you enough to buy the book for yourself. Orenda Books are such lovely publishers who give the world only the best unique authors and plots! I am so grateful for the acquaintance and the fantastic books.
Do follow what my fellow bloggers have to say about the book. Here is the Schedule of this fabulous Blog Tour: