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The Courier

Published Date: 27th September 2018

Available in


21 January 2019
21 March 2019


In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz.


In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.


And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…


Written with Dahl’s trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in a exceptional, shocking thriller.


 ‘If you want your worst fears about what goes on inside a cop’s mind confirmed, meet K.O. Dahl’s Oslo sleuths, Gunnarstranda and Frølich … impossible to put down’ Guardian


A masterclass in plotting, atmosphere and character that finely balances shocking twists with the coppers’ complicated personal lives.’

Sunday Times Crime Club


‘If you have never sampled Dahl, now is the time to try’ Daily Mail


‘…action comes to a climax in an utterly convincing chase through Oslo’s sewage system’ Sunday Times


‘Dark, stylish and suspenseful, Faithless is the perfect example of why Nordic Noir has become such a popular genre.’ Reader’s Digest


Absorbing, heart-rending and perfectly plotted. Kjell Ola Dahl’s The Courier passes seamlessly from the present to the dark past of WWII. Fabulous!’ Denzil Meyrick



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 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 WindWolves in the Darkand 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

Online Reviews

‘An instant classic, The Courier contains everything I look for in a book – it’s set in WW2 and uses that time period’s underlying menace and drama, it’s got a deep, involved plot that spans across different periods in time, there’s mystery and espionage everywhere, it’s populated by great characters that you actually care about and it’s written in the formidable style of the master that is Kjell Ola Dahl. It almost feels like it was tailor made for my bookshelves … Kjell Ola Dahl is an exceptionally talented writer and manages to set a gripping story against a backdrop of global menace and terror that perfectly blends the historical with the thrill of fiction in an authoritative manner.  The Courier sits up there with my favourites of the historical fiction genre like Fatherland and Gorky Park and the aforementioned All The Light We Cannot See. The Courier is peopled with characters that really hook you in and a mystery that will keep you glued until its, frankly, shocking reveal. Kjell Ola Dahl, best known for his Oslo Detectives novels, has here created a deep, slow-burning thriller that’s not only one of the best reads of the year but one of the best reads of the genre’ Mumbling About


The Courier is a literary spy thriller, perfect for John Le Carré fans, and a very welcome addition to the Nordic Noir genre. The book is steeped in history – Norway in World War 2 and the plight of its Jewish people during the Holocaust – with roots in espionage and wartime resistance … The writing is excellent (translated by Don Bartlett) – sparse where it needs to be, to move the story along at a fast pace, but highly descriptive elsewhere, with acute observations that paint a vivid picture of people and places. So much tension bubbles away under the surface. But this is far more than just a thriller and a murder mystery. It’s also a heartbreaking read, as Ester learns more about what happened to her family and her childhood friend. The ending brought tears to my eyes but also a strong sense of resolution. Highly recommended!’ Off-the-shelf Books


‘This tension runs throughout the novel like a river. It is an undercurrent which taints every sentence and character and I didn’t know quite who to trust. This is a brilliant thriller wrapped up in a piece of exquisite historical fiction with meticulous plotting and great characterisation. I loved the multiple timelines which allowed the mysteries (and boy are there a few!) to develop … Kjell Ola Dahl writes women so well, they are not just ‘the wife’, or ‘the mother’ or ‘the pretty dead girl’ and the plot of The Courier is driven by women. It is women who hide Ester from the Gestapo, women who carry messages for the resistance and a woman who is unafraid to go against powerful and menacing men to right wrongs. I loved the people in this book, but most of all I loved Ester and her strength. If brilliantly plotted novels with strong female leads and a stack of social and political history is your thing then The Courier could be for you. Wonderfully translated by Don Bartlett it is Nordic Noir at its best’ Beverley Has Read


‘Dahl does a fantastic job of keeping the tension up as the narrative threads become increasingly intertwined and the truth begins to come out at last. The jumps in time feel extremely natural, as the characters are well developed both in physical appearance and the way they change (or don’t change) as people over the years. In this way, Dahl ensures that the narrative is never difficult to follow. In fact, the pace only picks up as the story goes on and becomes more and more gripping … this is a fantastic crime novel, excellently plotted and with plenty of action, intriguing characters and historical detail that really takes you on a journey to Oslo and Stockholm during the Second World War, the Cold War, and back to the present day. I highly recommend it to fans of Scandi crime and translated fiction – The Courier is another absolute triumph for Orenda, and one that I’m sure I’ll be coming back to read again in the future!’ From Cover to Cover