Certain Signs That You Are Dead
Torkil Damhaug
Headline 2019
440 pages

Certain Signs That You Are Dead is the 4th instalment in the Oslo Crime Files series by bestselling author and former psychiatrist, Torkil Damhaug. Certain Signs That You Are Dead (Oslo Crime Files 4) on Kindle

Like many people’s relationship status, Certain Signs That You Are Dead is complicated.

Successful pyramid schemer, 23 year-old Norwegian Sigurd Woods has met the mysterious but lovely Katja; his sudden live-in lover and relative stranger. Her secrecy leads him to scenes of jealousy and mistrust which propel them both down the rabbit hole. His mother Jenny is a retired pathologist who works in the research centre of the local hospital. She has her own lover; a personable surgeon named Zoran. They have friends in high places.

The hospital becomes a place of chaos when Ibro Hakanovic; a man familiar with Katja, comes in for treatment. He goes missing. Arash is the patient transporter who seems to have misplaced him. When Hakanovic is found murdered, Arash, who has his own dark history, is the prime suspect.

With hints of something sinister, two seemingly divergent yet intimately connected stories take off and tumble deeper and deeper into a frightening world of violence and mayhem.

Sigurd finds himself dragged into one extremely dangerous and unpredictable situation after another. Not everyone gets out alive.

With many details and layers to this book, including politics, intense family histories and murderous gangs, this reader found Certain Signs That You Are Dead complicated, disjointed and somewhat confusing. I could not understand not only why Sigurd allows himself to be continually sucked along by the undertow when he could have easily escaped at the onset, but also the ultimate decision he makes in the end.

Added to the confusion are incidents experienced by Arash. Are they real or are they delusions brought about by his frightening past? Some things don’t quite make sense.

At any rate, Certain Signs That You Are Dead escalates into something akin to a B+ movie; lots of action, excitement and bloodshed, with scary surprise revelations of international incident proportion.

On a side note, I found the title a bit mystifying. Only one “sign” was stated repeatedly throughout the beginning of the book. It did not refer to others.

Certain Signs That You Are Dead by Torkil Damhaug was not my favourite read, but those who enjoy European crime novels may want to give it a try.


Other Nordic Noir mystery novels we’ve reviewed:

The Forbidden Place – Suzanne Jannson

Stalker – Lars Keppler

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