Hell Is Open begins with a brutal crime, unfortunately, these crimes happen all too often and are not restricted to any one place. Gard Sveen grabbed my attention with this opening and kept me looking for more.
This is book two in the Tommy Bergmann series. I haven’t read the first book yet, but I didn’t feel lost or as though I was missing something; so, if you haven’t read The Last Pilgrim, no worries, Hell Is Open easily reads as a stand-alone.
The story switches perspectives between the lead investigator, Tommy Bergmann, his assistant, the man who confessed to the crime, his psychiatrist and the victim’s mother. Yes, the book is told from many perspectives. The best way I can put it is that each one is its own freight train, they start out slowly, building the character, gradually letting the reader know who they are and their impact in the whole story. Before you know it, each one has reached full steam and will all arrive at the station simultaneously. What reader could pull him or herself away from that collision?
As far as Nordic Noir goes, I have my favorites. Fair or not (life is never fair), in the back of my mind I always compare the book that I’m reading to my favorites in the genre. Did Sveen do that as well as the other authors? Was the story missing something? Can he replace my number one?
Quite simply, Hell Is Open was a gripping story with a protagonist who has a troubled past. It is dark, exactly what I enjoy. I am looking forward to more of Gard Sveen’s books being translated in the near future. It was just missing the little intangibles that make a 4 star a 5 star.