Synopses & Reviews
Crime Writers Association John Creasey Dagger Award winner
An ECONOMIST TOP FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR
A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLER OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR
A luminous novel, a police thriller, and the funniest book about war crimes and dementia you are likely to read
Sheldon Horowitz—widowed, impatient, impertinent—has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway: a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman, who failed his only son by sending him to Vietnam to die. Not until now, anyway.
Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbors young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. But old age and circumstances are altering Sheldons experience of time and memory. He is haunted by dreams of his son Sauls life and by guilt over his death. As Sheldon and the boy look for a haven in an alien world, reality and fantasy, past and present, weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.
Norwegian by Night introduces an ensemble of unforgettable characters—Sheldon and the boy, Rhea and Lars, a Balkan war criminal named Enver, and Sigrid and Petter, the brilliantly dry-witted investigating officers—as they chase one another, and their own demons, through the wilderness at the end of the world.
"Unexpectedly entertaining, with a stiff-upper-lip hero who transcends stereotype, this good-hearted debut doesn't shy away from modern cultural and religious issues, even though they ultimately prove immaterial." Kirkus Reviews
"There is a great deal going on in these pages.... Simonson handles it all with great aplomb, and her Major...is the perfect lens through which to view contemporary England." Booklist
"In the noisy world of today it is a delight to find a novel that dares to assert itself quietly with the lovely rhythm of Helen Simonson's funny, comforting, and intelligent first novel — a modern day story of love which takes everyone, grown children, villagers, and the main participants, by surprise — as real love stories tend to do." Elizabeth Strout
"I love this book. Courting curmudgeons, wayward sons, religion and race and real-estate in a petty and picturesque English village – Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is surprisingly, wonderfully romantic and fresh. Unsentimental, intelligent and warm, this endlessly amusing comedy of manners is the best first novel I've read in a long, long time." Cathleen Schine, author of The Love Letter and The New Yorkers
"This irresistibly delightful, thoughtful, and utterly charming and surprising novel reads like the work of a seasoned pro. In fact, it is Simonson's debut. One cannot wait to see what she does next." Library Journal, starred review
"The real pleasure of this book derives . . . from its beautiful little love story, which is told with skill and humor. . . . That love can overcome cultural barriers is no new theme, but it is presented here with great sensitivity and delicacy. . . . As for happy endings, [the book] deserves all available prizes." New York Times Book Review
"Funny, barbed, delightfully winsome storytelling... As with the polished work of Alexander McCall Smith, there is never a dull moment but never a discordant note either... [the book's] main characters are especially well drawn, and Ms. Simonson makes them as admirable as they are entertaining... It's all about intelligence, heart, dignity and backbone. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand has them all." New York Times
"When depicted by the right storyteller, the thrill of falling in love is funnier and sweeter at 60 than at 16... With her crisp wit and gentle insight, Simonson is still far from her golden years... but somehow in her first novel she already knows just what delicious disruption romance can introduce to a well-settled life." Washington Post
Best New Crime Writer of the Year: Winner of the CWA 2013 John Creasey Dagger Award
"Has the brains of a literary novel and the body of a thriller."
— New York Times
"Truly a page-turner...Norwegian by Night is about past wars and present-day ethnic strife, family, grief, guilt and, ultimately, redemption. Korea (and phantom Koreans), Vietnam, the Holocaust, ethnic identity — Serb, Norwegian, Muslim, and yes, Jewish — these are the true characters of the novel....Funny, moving and thoroughly gripping."
"A stunning examination of how our lives shape our character, and how our allegiances shape our destiny."
— Bethanne Patrick, AARP (1 of "12 Summer Reads for 2013")
"Derek B. Miller's debut novel, Norwegian by Night, is about aging snipers. Or, it's about parenting and loss. Or, the lingering traces of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. It feels about as full as life itself, and almost as real."
—Jessica Young, Jewniverse
"[A] beautifully-written contribution to Nordic noir with a twist. It cleverly avoids many the genres clichés and pitfalls and emerges triumphant as a fully-dimensional gem."
—From the John Creasey Dagger Award Judges' Citation
"Both an exciting chase thriller and a poignant story about a man who comes into his own again in his dotage." --Library Journal "No brief plot outline can do justice to a book that deserves to find a place on a few best-of-the-year lists. Sheldon is a brilliantly imagined character, a true mensch, made of Greatest Generation stuff...Miller joins the ranks of Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, and Jo Nesbø, the holy trinity of Scandinavian crime novelists." --Booklist, starred "Miller's affecting debut, about a cantankerous Jewish widower transplanted to Norway who becomes party to a hate crime, is an unusual hybrid: part memory novel, part police procedural, part sociopolitical tract and part existential meditation. Miller, an American living in Oslo...makes the setting a powerful character...The novel, first published in Norway, was worth the wait." --Kirkus Reviews "A literate, thoughtful and unusual thriller...Our image of Scandinavia is one of tolerance — Miller doesnt disagree with the image, but Norwegian by Night offers a fascinating fictional exploration of the meaning and implementation of that tolerance." --The Times (UK) "Norwegian by Night has all the ingredients of a top-notch thriller, but it's the superb characterisation of the protagonist that fuels true suspense. Funny and moving as well as thoroughly gripping, this is crime fiction of the highest order." --The Guardian "Much more than an enjoyable thriller. It is a beautifully written tale of love and loss...One of the best novels of the year."—Jenni Frazer, The Jewish Chronicle (UK) "This highly visual storytelling reads like a first draft of the script for an action-packed, emotionally satisfying movie, one that will appeal to both sexes." —Jewish Book Council Norwegian by Night's n ot just a great title, it's also a soulful, humane, and sparklingly funny novel. Spend some time with Sheldon and company in the Scandinavian wilderness and you just might make peace with your god, your ghosts, and yourself. -- Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story "Brilliant, serious literary crime and our favorite thing, Scandi-noir, but with a twist..." - Erica Wagner, The Times '100 people to watch in 2013' (UK) "NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT is an outrageously intelligent thriller, and its philosopher-sniper hero, Sheldon Horowitz, is a character who'll stay in your brain for decades. You might come for the guns and the ruckus, but by the last page, with your heart still pounding, you'll be crying at all the goddamned beauty and love in the world." - Patrick Somerville, author of This Bright River and The Cradle "Norwegian by Night shifts along like an inquisitive wind, with characters who enter your mind so easily its as if theyve been there all along, and a voice so confident you would follow it into a leaning house. Generous with its wit, dazzling in its cultural and historical reach, Derek Millers novel is the kind of sweep-you-up tale a reader always wants but rarely finds, the kind where you stand in the bookstore reading the opening pages and whisper, This is the one."—Leif Enger, bestselling author of Peace Like a River "Have you ever lucked into one of those novels so taut and suspenseful that you can't turn the pages fast enough, yet, at the same time, so magnificently written and psychologically incisive that you find yourself unable to turn those same pages slowly enough? Such novels are as rare as great comets. Norwegian by Night, I'm happy to report, is one. Make sure you're in a comfortable spot when cracking this book; you won't be putting it down for an obscenely long while."—Jonathan Miles, author of Dear American Airlines "Humane, blackly funny, heartbreaking, full of believable people and with a touching, magnificent hero in Sheldon, this is one of the best books Ive read this year. Verdict: Brilliant."—Herald Sun (Australia) "Norwegian By Night [is] ostensibly a Scandinavian thriller yet recalls Saul Bellow and Philip Roths more cerebral creations…A remarkably confident debut that is at once a rich psychological study, a political parable that seems to be about Americas compulsion to intervene abroad, and a moving story of an old mans last chance to slay his demons."—John Dydale, The Sunday Times (UK) "A stunningly good debut thriller, subtle and moving, with a truly original hero…Literate, elegant and compelling."—Marcel Berlins, The Times (UK) "From the synopsis, it is impossible to harness all the themes and subtlety of prose that this book conveys to the reader. On one level, not only does the book contain all the quintessential elements of a Scandinavian crime novel, it also encompasses the Korean, Vietnam, and Balkan conflicts, and on a more emotional level, presents a poignant and meditative examination of aging and regret…I would urge everyone to read this exceptional debut, with its powerful and emotive themes…[as well as] all the tension of a totally authentic Scandinavian crime thriller. I cannot praise it highly enough, and Norwegian By Night could well be one of my top crime reads of the year. Outstanding." —Raven Crime Reads (blog)
A September 2015 Indie Next Pick
A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book of 2015, Fall/Winter
"Constance Kopp, the feisty heroine of Amy Stewart’s charming novel “Girl Waits With Gun,” sounds like the creation of a master crime writer. At nearly 6 feet tall, Constance is a formidable character who can pack heat, deliver a zinger and catch a criminal without missing a beat. Based on the little-known story of the real Constance Kopp, one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs, the novel is an entertaining and enlightening story of how far one woman will go to protect her family." —Washington Post
“Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel...The sisters’ personalities flower under Stewart’s pen, contributing happy notes of comedy to a terrifying situation...And then there is Constance: Sequestered for years in the country and cowed by life, she develops believably into a woman who comes into herself, discovering powers long smothered under shame and resignation. I, for one, would like to see her return to wield them again in further installments.”—New York Times Book Review
“This historical novel by the bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist stars an unforgettable, not-to-be-messed-with heroine – one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs. It all begins circa 1910 when an earnest request entangles a family with the town thug. The rest is kickass history.”—Marie Claire
"Through painstaking attention to detail, Stewart has created an elegant, moving narrative of an unusual real-life woman who dared defy the odds to ensure the safety of her family." —BookPage
"It's set in 1914, but its heroine, Constance Kopp, feels about 100 years more modern as she boldly takes on a gang hellbent on destroying her family."—Glamour
“100 years ago, Constance Kopp was well on her way to becoming the baddest chick in the West”—Cosmopolitan
"Laugh out loud [funny]."—Good Housekeeping
"A sheer delight to read and based on actual events, this debut historical mystery packs the unexpected, the unconventional, and a serendipitous humor into every chapter. Details from the historical record are accurately portrayed by villains and good guys alike, and readers will cross their fingers for the further adventures of Constance and Sheriff Heath. For fans of the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, and the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie R. King."—Booklist, starred
"Hardened criminals are no match for pistol-packing spinster Constance Kopp and her redoubtable sisters in this hilarious and exciting period drama by bestseller Stewart (The Drunken Botanist). This is an elegant tale of suspense, mystery, and wry humor...A surprising Kopp family secret, a kidnapped baby, and other twists consistently ratchet up the stakes throughout, resulting in an exhilarating yarn."—Publishers Weekly, starred
"Stewart crafts a solid, absorbing novel based on real-life events—though they're unusual enough to seem invented. Stewart deftly tangles and then unwinds a complicated plot with nice period detail...More adventures involving gutsy Constance, quietly determined Sheriff Heath, and a lively cast of supporting characters would be most welcome."—Kirkus, starred
"In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT: Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen’s 'Molly Murphy' mysteries and Victoria Thompson’s 'Gaslight Mystery' series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women."—Library Journal, starred
"A period thriller that rivals any other historical-based suspense novel. Stewart weaves an amazingly delightful tale, one I was hard pressed to put down. This novel should be listed for debut novel awards."—Suspense Magazine
“A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I've seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness."—Elizabeth Gilbert
"How could you not fall in love with a book about one of the first female deputy sheriffs and her sisters--especially when it’s written by the enthralling Amy Stewart? Full of long-held secrets, kicked-up dust, simmering danger, and oh yes, that gun—this gritty romp illuminates one of history’s strongest women with a hold-your-breath panache."—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“Girl Waits With Gun makes excellent use of history to put a fresh spin on classic cop-and-crook types. Amy Stewart's true-life protagonist is a ‘rough and tumble’ version of the early 20th century's New Woman. She is witty, sharply-drawn, and suffers no fools!”—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
“Yowza! Amy Stewart’s debut boasts pomaded gangsters, pistol-packin’ dames, kidnappings, shots in the dark, and everything from Girls Gone Wrong to carrier pigeons finding their way home. You might want to stay up all night reading, you might want to lie down on your fainting couch with a cool cloth on your forehead. Either way, you’ll have the time of your life.” —Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife
"Girl Waits with Gun is fresh, funny and utterly compelling-- and Constance Kopp and her sisters are not just great investigators, but completely original women. It was a blast from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what Deputy Kopp gets up to next."— Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files, How to Start a Fire, and others
“Amy Stewart has crafted the best kind of historical novel; she uncovers an intriguing, all-but-forgotten historical nugget and spins it into a wildly entertaining tale with an engaging, tough-minded heroine. Girl Waits With Gun hits the bulls-eye.”—Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War
“Amy Stewart’s debut novel Girl Waits With Gun is an irresistible and thoroughly enjoyable book, a suspenseful historical mystery spiced with marvelous characters, wit, and humor. Is it too soon to beg for a sequel?” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule
“Engaging, lively, and substantive, Girl Waits with Gun is a perfect mystery, and the Kopp sisters are my new best friends. Amy Stewart writes about crime as well as she writes about plants and poisons. I loved this book, and will be first in line for the next installment.”—Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway
You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of this remarkable novel he will steal your heart.
The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside is filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and contains a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of readers' own families. Their interactions are both hilarious and heartbreaking.
A profoundly moving, deliciously suspenseful novel about an American grandfather and a newly orphaned boy racing across the Norwegian wilderness, fleeing demons both real and imagined.
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.
Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. “A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I've seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
About the Author
Helen Simonson was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics and former travel advertising executive, she has lived in America for the last two decades. A longtime resident of Brooklyn, she now lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, D.C., area. This is her first novel.
Table of Contents
The 59th Parallel 1
River Rats 105
New River 193