On a blazing hot summer’s day, holidaymakers at a guesthouse on a Norwegian island are shocked to discover that a fellow guest has been found murdered on a desolate plain. The nameless narrator, an author, was the last person to see the victim alive; shortly afterwards, he is disturbed by a noise like `a rattling of chains’. A local tells him this is `the iron chariot’, which is said to presage death. Detective Asbjorn Krag is summoned from the capital, Kristiania, and sets about investigating the murder. When a similar death occurs on the plain, it is again preceded by the eerie sound of the iron chariot, which leaves no tracks.
The Iron Chariot (translated beautifully by Lucy Moffatt) is a short read that packs one heck of a punch- an eerie and atmospheric tale of murder and secrets that is often also genuinely creepy.
We have an unnamed narrator, an enigmatic detective and things that go bump in the night- a murder most foul and a lyrical off kilter prose that keeps you immersed. The sense of place is clever, wrapping itself around the narrative so the vivid haunting backdrop comes to life. It is a gorgeous read – the author being somewhat of an original when it comes to Nordic Noir, available here for the first time in English.
I worked out where it was going very early on (I learned from the best when I read Christie multiple times) but that didn’t feel like the point of the book. Stein Riverton sets you up within a claustrophobic, haunting setting then gives us a Poirot like investigator, a hapless, nervous observer and then twists the plot intelligently through to an excellent conclusion.