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The Fifth Element: Odd Singsaker    by Jorgen Brekke order for
Fifth Element
by Jorgen Brekke
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

When a new book by Jorgen Brekke (author of Where Monsters Dwell and Dreamless) shows up, I know I'm in for an outstanding read, which was again the case with his third Odd Singsaker novel, The Fifth Element. But this author is so hard on his characters that I'm beginning to see him as the George R. R. Martin of the mystery genre.

And, like Martin, Brekke sketches his quirky characters in all the shades of grey - the best have serious flaws and even the worst have some redeeming qualities. Singsaker is a police inspector in Trondheim, Norway. He had a brain tumor removed before the series opened, resulting in missing memories. He is married to ex-homicide detective Felicia Stone, but she left him at the end of the second episode, in which Odd was badly injured and hospitalized.

As The Fifth Element opens, Odd is recovering but not back on duty yet, and Felicia is heading back to him - but all goes awry with her flight plans, and she ends up driving instead - and bumping into a man on a vengeful mission. That encounter leaves her seriously injured and in a very dangerous situation - can Odd find out where she is and get to her in time? That question keeps the reader glued to the pages.

As always in a Brekke novel, there are multiple plot threads 'in which completely unrelated events become strangely intertwined' - and explosions of violence, as well as regular surprises along the way. In addition to Felicia's story, we watch two university students who steal from a drug dealer and suffer the consequences; that dealer's enforcer intent on recovering his losses; and a young mother fleeing her abuser with her small daughter.

As this episode ends, Odd plans a trip to London to sell a rare book - and we get an inkling of who will be following him there, with no good intentions. Look forward to reading it!

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