An Arctic Thriller with a Twist

Forty Days Without Shadow is a fast-paced murder mystery spanning everything from indigenous rights to geological exploration to the care and feeding of reindeer. (Yes, reindeer!) While the Norwegian village of Kautokeino prepares for the first sliver of sunlight in forty days, a thief breaks into the local museum and steals a priceless Sami drum. Tensions between the indigenous Sami population and the largely Scandinavian government are already running high, and the situation is further complicated when a Sami reindeer herder is found murdered.

As members of the Reindeer Police unit, veteran officer Klemet Nango and his rookie partner Nina Nansen usually spend their days resolving border disputes among reindeer herders. A Sami man who grew up in Kautokeino, Klemet knows most of the locals and helps newcomer Nina understand the town’s idiosyncrasies. When the pair is drawn into the murder investigation, they soon find themselves forced to navigate the tricky politics between Sami activists and government officials, while also avoiding a mysterious geologist who knows more than he’s letting on.

Author Olivier Truc offers a compelling look at Sami life and culture, and is able to use Nina’s newness to Kautokeino as a valid reason for Klemet to explain local customs and beliefs. Originally published in French as Le Dernier Lapon (“The Last Sami”), the novel is as much an anthropological examination of Sami culture as it is a thrilling mystery. It’s easy to see why this international bestseller has won twenty awards, including the 42d Prix du Mystère de la Critique (Best French Crime Novel of the year for 2013).

Fans of Scandinavian noir such as Smilla’s Sense of Snow, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Henning Mankell's Wallander series would likely enjoy this page-turner.

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