We congratulate Torkil Damhaug with winning the Riverton Prize 2016 for his crime novel A Fifth Season!
The Riverton Prize is the annual Norwegian Crime Fiction Award. Every year a jury of distinguished crime literature readers pick the best crime novel of the year, and for 2016 they picked Torkil Damhaugs novel A Fifth Season in great competition with Karin Fossum, Chris Tvedt, Unni Lindell and Bjørn Olav Nordahl.
The Jury says about A Fifth Season:
"A Fifth Season by Torkil Damhaug is simply a superb feat that made all of us in the jury certain that this is the best Norwegian crime novel of 2016."
The Riverton Prize 2016 – Statement from the Jury:
It is a crime novel with extremely criminal literary characteristics that receives the Riverton Prize for 2016 – a novel that could just as easily have been a strong “ordinary” novel about coming of age and the dangers of growing up, about relationship fluxes, about lies and deceit, about the highest levels of madness, about the fight for power, wrongdoings and abuse on many levels and about revenge portioned out over a long span of time.
But since it has a clear focus on murder, investigation and solving a mystery, we most certainly are talking about a crime novel. And as a crime novel it fulfills all our demands about uncertainty, threat, fear, excitement, murder and madness – and gives us a past tense story that is revealed in different ways to its descendants.
We also get to see the police work and the hierarchy intrigues inside the Police, as a large shipment of drugs is to be trailed to its recipients in Norway. And adding to that, a huge corruption case in the Finance Guard remains unreleased, and we get scenes from a courtroom where a raving mad man is exonerated, while he is planning to repeat the atrocities he once committed.
We find ourselves in the village of Hammerdal, with the now closed down roofing felt factory, the scene of a tragic and deadly accident back in 1978, on the same night that the final of the Soccer World Championship is played in Argentina.
Back in our time, the teenagers of the village use the now abandoned factory as a meeting place; several of the kids turn out to be connected to the tragedy of 1978.
Ann, Helene, Victor and Nicolai are trying out things they should not, and at one point they lock another kid, known as The Drifter, inside the factory. This seems to be the catalyst of what then happens - death and misery, fear and damnation. Not until the end of the story do we discover that just parts of what has happened can be linked to the fact that The Drifter is the son of Frank Nitter – a monstrous man suffering from disillusions so bizarre and brutal that chills run down our spines. He is one who sow in fall and reap in spring, but whether or not he is the one who make poor Ann so broken that she is mistaking the seasons, we should not reveal at this point.
It is Ann´s father - the son of one of the factory workers from 1978 - a Drug Enforcement officer, that does most of the investigation when tragedy strikes, even if he is divorced and has a new family in Oslo, and Ann is living alone with her mother.
Two of the teenagers are found killed early in the narrative, and all the clues are leading in one direction. Ann has disappeared, but here the clues are leading in different directions, because it early in the investigation may seem to be related to the drug traffickers mentioned earlier. But we are later presented to – apparent - answers that are different than what we first thought.
Ann is found severely beaten and brain damaged, and we follow her through nine months of rehabilitation. It is then, as she returns to Hammerdal, that she gets the answers to what has happened to her and why. This explanation is only privy to Ann – and us, the readers – not to the investigators of the case, and known to none others than her abductors.
A few of the chapters describe the incident that took place in 1978, but the rest of the book is built up chronologically from November 2015 and until December of the following year. In-between in the on-going crime narrative we find texts called “I am Ann” marked with numbers and as a whole covering a long time of Anns road back to life. It is a strategy used to tell a different story and redeem her, that in itself adds to the mystery and excitement. It is well executed in a crime novel where we as readers have to gather all the threads and speculate about something as challenging as the truth about the past and present Hammerdal-incidents, and what they really mean.
A Fifth Season by Torkil Damhaug is simply a superb feat that made all of us in the jury certain that this is the best Norwegian crime novel of 2016.