Ann, Victor, Helene and Nicolai are four young friends. They like trying things out, but their exploits don't always turn out well. One of the things they should not have done was to lock a classmate in the cellar of a ruined factory beside the river, where there had once been a nasty accident. Soon after, two of the four youngsters are found dead, and the third has disappeared.
En femte årstid is a psychological thriller which brings the reader close to both victims and perpetrators. It is a crime novel where the reader has the opportunity to follow the investigation of abduction and murder. What happened? Who is guilty? It is a thought-provoking novel which throws light on how events we cannot control intrude to turn everyday life upside-down. What happens to us and to our relationships with our loved ones? We meet young people driven by lethal forces they don't understand. We meet a father who will do everything to find his daughter. We meet some of the faces of evil. En femte årstid is Torkil Damhaug's eighth novel. It is a sequel to his previous series of books, Årstidkvartetten, but it stands on its own and can be read independently of the others.
Damhaug’s previous books are sold in Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, UK, The Czech Republic, Turkey and Germany. A fifth season has been sold to Denmark (Modtryk).
Author Torkil Damhaug has a knack for the grandiose. This year’s crime offering, En femte årstid (A Fifth Season), is no exception. The story spans 38 years and features many characters whose lines of communication and fates cross such that they are constantly becoming entangled with and subsequently disentangling from each other.
It all starts with a fatal accident during the production of asphalt board at a factory in Hammerdal. It is the summer of 1978, the football World Cup final is on TV and most of the staff have snuck a drink or two. The irresponsibility that led to the fatal accident is quickly hushed up, but it will prove to have a deep and adverse impact on the relationships between people in this small community just outside of Oslo.
In our time, the factory is closed and run-down. Four young people, high on dope and each other, decide to lock a classmate who is bothering them inside. What happens at the factory will have fatal consequences for most of them, because the boy’s father is a convicted murderer – and not entirely sound of mind.
Using this foundation, Damhaug constructs an ambitious and intricate story, and as is so often the case in his books, it is the personal relationships that contain the answer to what happened. The children are haunted by the sins of their fathers, the revenge motif is recycled through several generations and good conscience is challenged again and again.
Torkil Damhaug is a crime writer who is unusually confident in his style, and I am unaware of any of his contemporaries who are as capable of expressing how desperation lurks just underneath the most everyday scenes.
Sindre Hovdenakk, VG, 6/6
You might call the book “Norwegian village noir”, with a high level of literary ambition.
Torkil Damhaug wrote three “normal” novels before he had a breakthrough with his first crime novel, Se meg, Medusa (Medusa), in 2007. This year’s book, En femte årstid (A Fifth Season), is also his fifth crime novel. As regards the season to which he refers, you can in any case be sure that it is dark, both in the middle of the summer and during the winter. The story starts on 25 June 1978 and concludes in September 2016. Football fans will recognise the first date as the day the Netherlands and Argentina played in the World Cup final in Buenos Aires. At an asphalt plant in Hammerdal, the workers celebrate the event with a sneaky drink and a TV brought in from home. The final is deemed one of history’s most exciting. But whether due to the football result, poor safety measures or fate, a terrible accident occurs. One of the workers falls into a vat of boiling asphalt and dies.
But this is just the backbone of a story about flesh and blood, souls and emotions. Damhaug is a magnificent storyteller who gradually unravels his well-composed story. Through dialogue, changing points of view and a broad spectrum of supporting characters, he presents his characters as born of concealments, conflicts and failures. His book has the structure of a crime novel, but is just as much a masterly composed study of a group of young people during the most dangerously emotional period of their lives, when anything could happen. For the best, but here particularly for the worst. You might call the book “Norwegian village noir”, with a high level of literary ambition.
Fredrik Wandrup, Dagbladet, 5/6
Brilliant suspense: Torkil Damhaug’s En femte årstid (A Fifth Season) is on a level with the best international crime.
From young adult novel to horror film, police novel to psycho-thriller, everything is covered in one family history novel: En femte årstid (A Fifth Season) has it all.
The switch between the different voices works superbly and contributes to creating an overall picture of the community and of life itself. Even the most exaggerated of the voices in the novel contributes to this chorus, the rambling psychopath Frank Nitter, who lives alone on a remote farm. In this character, who almost tips over the line into a parody of a stark raving mad serial killer from popular culture, the author puts his credibility to the test, but there is something to it, because of course there are several types of evil. And who knows which is the most dangerous?
The novel also encapsulates a downplayed detective mystery, and as usual when reading Damhaug, you have to pay attention to smell a rat and guess who is really behind it all. But it doesn’t end there, as it would in a normal detective novel, with us finding the perpetrator and everything being resolved. In Damhaug’s world, the roots of evil extend much further than we normally like to think.
En femte årstid is a brilliant existential thriller, a nerve-racking drama on a level with the best Norwegian and international crime.
Ola A. Hegdal, Dagens Næringsliv
About the Author:
Torkil Damhaug (58) is a trained doctor and psychiatrist. En femte årstid is his eighth novel. In 2011, he won the Riverton Prize for Ildmannen (The Fire Man).