I am a big of of Nordic Noir, Henning Mankell, Peter Hoegn, Asa Larsson, Stieg Larsson, Camilla Lackberg. Hans Olav Lahlum belongs to the same gentre but with a twist. His novels are written in the classical style and they are taking place in the late 1960s. Satellite people is the second book of the K2 and Patricia Series; the first one “The Human Flies” was in the shortlist for the 2015 Petrona Award.
In Oslo, in 1968, the wealthy businessman Magdalon Schelderup dies during a dinner party. The “satellite people” are his 10 guests, which include an ex-wife, his mistress, grown-up children,employees and old friends, any one of whom may have a motive for murder.
Satellite people, says Patricia… “are individuals who for whatever reason move in a more or less fixed orbit round another person. It is a phenomenon that can be found in many relationships and at all levels of society. For example, it might be a kind mother who even when she is a very old lady herself continues to circle round a sick child, or a son who though grown still gives all to his father. It could easily be argued that our longest-serving prime minister Einar Gerhertsen’s editor brother was a kind of satellite person to his sibling . And the wife of the current prime minister, also only orbits her husband.
The phenomenon is in fact particularly evident in the wealth upper-classes…. Many strong and powerful people, intentionally or unintentionally, encourage other people to orbit thema as satellites. ……And now it appear that one of the satellites has broken loose its path in a very dramatic fashion and crashed into the planet it was orbiting. This has sparked a highly unpredictable situation. All the fixed orbits have been broken and chaos threatens a universe that has lost its centre point and organised force.”
Lahlum dedicates his book to Agatha Kristie, “the world’s greatest crime writer”, and indeed the plot is inspired by Christie, with a detective duo, Inspector Kolbjorn Kristiansen, known as K2, and the brilliant and enigmatic, wheelchair-using Patricia who lives isolated in her house, something that relates strongly to Rex Stout’s detective Nero Wolfe. The relationship between the two is interesting and dynamic and it has certainly been developed since the first book of the series. Patricia is more mature, more human.
The characters are unique and memorable, they seem more like real people, with their secrets, fears, cruelties and hatreds. Lahlum is a smart writer, with a wonderful deft and humane touch in his writing. Looking forward to the third book in the series.