Norwegian by Night is the most original crime novel I’ve read this year, and I really enjoyed it. I fell in love with Sheldon Horowitz, an 82 year old American Jew, ex-Marine who fought in the Korean War, who recently moved to Oslo after his wife’s death. His story is sad, funny, and heroic.
The criminal element of the story involves Sheldon hiding a young boy and his mother after his mother was in a violent and loud argument in the apartment upstairs from his, but the crime is not the only centerpiece of the novel. It’s a novel about an old man who believes he’ll die soon and all of his memories (Sheldon, who suffers from dementia, feels very guilty about his son Saul’s death in the Vietnam War). It’s also a novel about wars and surviving after wars, and it’s a novel about being an outsider.
The characters feel very complete, even the younger characters like Sheldon’s granddaughter Rhea and the more minor police characters who track Sheldon and the young boy. The novel is an interesting mix of an adventure/escape story (Miller quotes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from time to time), memories of war and regrets, and crime. Sheldon is the most original character I’ve come across in my reading in a very long time.