A Norwegian Spy

Nore, Aslak: En Norsk Spion

From one of Norway’s leading young writers comes a remarkable, innovative and adventure-packed spy novel set in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Most contemporary spy authors dealing with the so-called “War on Terror” have emphasized the fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban. However, in A Norwegian Spy (possible English title The Silk Road to Hell), former soldier and journalist Aslak Nore paints a gloomy picture of the most feared organization in the tumultuous region: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The action sets off in Dubai, a city described as a “modern day Casablanca,” where Norwegian secret agent Peter Wessel works to retrieve information from an Iranian defector. The mission fails, but Wessel and his fellow agents receive clues about a missile shipment and an upcoming Iranian strike against Norwegian interests in Afghanistan. 

Wessel and the other agents must find the missiles and prevent the attack. Disguised as journalists, they embark on a dangerous and desperate mission through war-torn Afghanistan. The journey takes them from Kabul’s decadent expat community to the lavish mosques of Herat, from smugglers in the Afghan underworld to behind-enemy-lines patrols in the epic Hindu Kush mountains. 

Unlike most modern spy stories, the novel is a first-person narrative. This gives it an authentic and almost painfully visceral feeling reminiscent of Gregory D. Roberts’ Shantaram or Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones. Unequaled in its verisimilitude and vibrant portrayal of Afghanistan, Islamic art and the intelligence world, A Norwegian Spy is a profoundly original and adventurous addition to the world of fictional espionage ­– written by a cosmopolitan writer with vast experience from the frontlines of today’s wars.   

"An exotic and nerve -wracking count- down ensues– from the art galleries of Dubai to the  mountains of the Hindu Kush, from the mosques of Herat to the weapons dealers of Kabul and  back again to Dubai. This is an unfamiliar, daring and treacherous world – where the only thing you  can depend upon is your partner.

Nore has an international flavour. "A Norwegian spy" is cleverly written; intense, energetic and as trustworthy as a thriller can be, so that I actually feel like one of the guys climbing up the "hills of  Kunar" on a dangerous, secret mission. I like that Wessel isn’t just Jason Bourne; that he can be both tired, insecure and scared. The fact that he’s also a well read art lover makes him a non-typical as far as Norwegian heroes go."
(Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, VG)

"Well-written, knowledgeable and very exciting. […] Thrillers are strikingly often written by authors who have at least one obvious weakness. They often have professional military expertise, or political or practical experiences, but they lack the ability to convert the story into literature. Not so in Aslak Nore’s case. He writes as well as he thinks. […] The atmosphere reminds you of the ones you can find in books of great American crime novelists, and their shabby heroes. It’s brave to tackle this formidable subject. When the result is something as rare as a clever thriller, there is reason to be impressed."
(Torbjørn Ekelund, Dagbladet)

"Well-written, knowledgeable and very exciting  […] Thrillers are strikingly often written by authors who have at least one obvious weakness. They often have professional military expertise, or political or practical experiences, but they lack the ability to convert the story into literature. Not so in Aslak Nore’s case. He writes as well as he thinks. […] The atmosphere reminds you of the ones you can find in books of great American crime novelists, and their shabby heroes. It’s brave to tackle this formidable subject. When the result is something as rare as a clever thriller, there is reason to be impressed."
(Torbjørn Ekelund, Dagbladet)

" “A Norwegian spy” is absolutely thrilling. As a thriller should be. Nore is going full on with high-speed intelligence, and he must have done extensive research. Nore’s view of Middle Eastern politics, diplomatic, powerful alliances, and the intricate chameleon-life of a spy is impressive. There are details on Afghan food and clothing habits here, art trade in Dubai, and Persian calligraphy. The reader learns a lot about daily life in Afghanistan. Good! […]  Exciting, surprising and informative. […] This is exotic reading from page one."
(Eskil Skjeldal, Vårt Land)

First published: 2012, Aschehoug Publishing House

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