When I had in mind to create a new, Scandinavian crime hero, I was very conscious of what he should be like. I was tired of reading about detectives who singlehandedly solved murder cases while dead drunk, waking up in the mornings with three-day-old designer stubble and a whisky bottle at the ready on the bedside table. I wanted a central character who was more like the policemen I knew from my daily work in the police force. It turned out to be William Wisting, a fair-minded, exemplary policeman, but above all a decent and genuine human being.
One of the greatest demands on a writer of police procedurals is the depiction of the interpersonal. The Katharina Code, and the previous Wisting novels, therefore do not merely deal with how Wisting tackles and solves a case, but also the impact the case has on him. Wisting changes from one book to the next. He has become a widower and the twin children Line and Thomas have grown up around him. In The Katharina Code, he has recently become a grandfather.
But some things with him stay the same. Wisting is a conscientious man, with genuine concern for his community and its social issues. Despite having delved into the depths of human depravity, he wants to be a force of good, to make the world a better place. As a detective, he is highly skilled and intuitive, with a keen eye for detail. He cares more about righteousness than elevating his position, prioritises collaboration over his own status, allowing his team’s expertise to shine. But, when confronted with strong personalities or unacceptable behaviour, he can be meek and deferential.
The Katharina Code is the seventh Wisting title to be published in English, and the first standalone in the Cold Case Quartet. To anyone who has not read any of my earlier books, I like to think that it will provide an interesting first meeting with Chief Inspector Wisting. And to those already familiar with him, I hope that the book will be a pleasant reunion with a dear old friend.
How many of Jørn Lier Horst’s Willing Wisting books have you read? Let us know in the comments below!