The Assistant (Paperback)

The Assistant Cover Image
By Kjell Ola Dahl, Don Bartlett (Translated by)
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days


A seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity leads a PI and his ex-con assistant on a murderous trail, in a sophisticated, riveting, cunningly plotted historical thriller set in interwar and prohibition-era Norway.

‘An expertly crafted unravelling of mixed loyalties, love, lust, lies and trust, set against the background of a world increasingly on the edge of all-out war’ John Harvey

'Dark, gritty and compulsive … feels like a classic of the genre' William Ryan

‘A stylish standalone thriller … Dahl ratchets up the tension from the first pages and never lets go’ Sunday Times


Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past ... and an extraordinary secret.

Both a fascinating portrait of Oslo’s interwar years, with Nazis operating secretly on Norwegian soil and militant socialists readying workers for war, The Assistant is also a stunningly sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hard-boiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

For fans of Sebastian Faulks, Lars Mytting, Mick Herron and Robert Harris.


‘Kjell Ola Dahl doesn’t write novels; he creates experiences by executing a strong sense of place of a spellbinding period that leaves its readers craving more' Books Technica

‘Political, or intelligence thrillers are ten a penny. Dahl does something altogether different … lush, detailed and personal’ Café Thinking

Praise for Kjell Ola Dahl’s The Courier

‘Absorbing, heart-rending and perfectly plotted …’ Denzil Meyrick

‘Cleverly braiding together past and present, the who and why of murder and betrayal are unpicked. The detail is impressive’ Daily Mail

‘A dark but richly described backdrop and a relentless, underlying tension drive this sad story. Fans of Nordic Noir will be satisfied’ Publishers Weekly

‘Skilfully juggles three Oslo timelines … simply superb plotting and essential reading’ The Times

‘A truly eloquent and rewarding tale’ LoveReading

‘This stunning and compelling wartime thriller is reminiscent of the writing of John Le Carré and William Boyd’ NB Magazine

‘Masterful, detailed plotting… Dahl has given a complex, human face to such an inhuman tragedy’ Crime Fiction Lover

About the Author

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers (Oslo Detectives series) featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

Don Bartlett completed an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2000 and has since worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbø and Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series: We Shall Inherit the Wind, Wolves in the Dark and the Petrona award-winning Where Roses Never Die. He also translated Faithless, the previous book in Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detective series for Orenda Books. He lives with his family in a village in Norfolk

Praise For…

"One of the pioneers of so-called Nordic Noir fiction." —Sunday Times (Best New Historical Fiction for May)

"This was GREAT - I haven’t read about a femme fatale for an absolute age, I know she’s a big of a wrong un bit I liked her anyway." —Cath Holland

"Superb. . . . Dahl highlights social issues in contemporary Norway. . . . The action comes to a climax in an utterly convincing chase through Oslo’s sewage system. The translator’s stripped-down, muscular prose is a plus." --Publishers Weekly starred review of Faithless

"Expertly crafted unravelling of mixed loyalties, love, lust, lies and trust, set against the background of a world increasingly on the edge of all-out war" —John Harvey, Author of Charlie Resnick series

"Dahl deftly controls the narrative, wielding irony to create bittersweet noir tension." — Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9781913193652
ISBN-10: 1913193659
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication Date: October 1st, 2021
Pages: 276
Language: English