REVIEW: The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl (Oslo Detectives #6)

Series: Oslo Detectives

Book Number: 6

Read this book for: multiple protagonists/investigators, Nordic noir, now it’s personal, detectives with personal issues, whodunnit

Quick Review: Fast-paced, action-packed and full of twists and turns, this Nordic noir read has all the punch of a hit TV show.


When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder. With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort.

THE ICE SWIMMER is the sixth novel in Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detectives series, which follows a group of detectives working in central Oslo’s crime squad. It focuses on young member of the team Lena Stigersand, and her attempts to solve an increasingly complex case while dealing with some significant personal issues.

Although this is the sixth novel in the series, you can pick THE ICE SWIMMER up as a stand alone. While you may have some deeper insight into the relationship and situation of some of the other characters by reading the preceding novels in the series (for example, check out the review for the fifth book, FAITHLESS, here), you can still enjoy this novel with very little background information.

Kjell Ola Dahl has concocted an intriguing plot for this instalment, blending together political conspiracy with solid thriller elements, with the added tension of a murder investigation. It feels more polished than FAITHLESS in that regard, with several intertwined investigations and clues with multiple possible meanings. In fact it could probably hold its own as a straightforward whodunnit even before the other elements present.

The second major element is a focus on Lena and her personal dilemmas and issues. It was great to see THE ICE SWIMMER really try to tackle some of these issues, but unfortunately there is so much going on in this novel that there’s not quite enough time to truly get into them.

The pacing truly brakes for no one, and fans of thrillers will appreciate the speed at which this novel moves. Kjell Ola Dahl also creates some very quick-moving action sequences, so THE ICE SWIMMER has far more punch than your standard whodunnit. It’s nice to see an active, human, female lead get to participate in these sequences as well.

THE ICE SWIMMER is a fantastic addition to the Oslo Detectives series, and a worthy stand-alone. Pick it up for an engaging, diverting read!

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