A cold case mystery that doesn’t let you go.

The Katharina Code by Jørn Lier Horst is a cold case story in the William Wisting series. Katharina went missing twenty-four years earlier and her body has never been found. When the police arrived at the house after her husband reported her missing there were several oddities that have never been explained.

The code of the book’s title refers to a note that was found on the kitchen table, with Katharina’s fingerprints on it. Columns of numbers and letters which make no sense, and which even code-breakers haven’t been able to crack.

25 years on
Every year, on the anniversary of her disappearance, William Wisting visits her husband, Martin, in an effort to make some progress with the case that haunts him; and over time their relationship has turned into a friendship of sorts.

But this year things will change. Adrian Stiller, an investigator with the Kripos Cold Case Group has been tasked to re-open an unsolved kidnapping case and a re-examination of the ransom demand has revealed the fingerprints of Katharina’s husband. Stiller plans to use Wisting to draw Martin into confessing his guilt.

Why I liked it
This a human novel. You don’t learn anything much about Katharina or the young kidnap victim (who had never been found) but you get to know the other characters really quite well. Wisting is an enigmatic man – focused and a bit cold. In this book you don’t get much idea of how he relates to the other members of his team, but his warmer side is revealed through his relationship with his daughter (Lena) and his granddaughter.

Stiller is driven – a man who is prepared to sail close to the wind to get the results he wants. And he doesn’t hesitate to push Wisting into an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous undercover role in order to force the hand of Katharina’s husband.

The slow build
The tensions in this book build slowly. There’s Stiller, on the margins, always pushing to speed things up, versus Wisting and his team trying to do things properly and methodically. When the solution to the crimes and the code are revealed it seems almost too simple, until you step back a bit and realise this was essentially a house of cards waiting to collapse.

I really enjoyed this story. The layers of mystery kept jabbing away at me so I didn’t want to put the book down. 4.5 Stars.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo

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