Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to world affairs knows that America is a strange place. The stories, the movies, the books... But now Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; her brother is missing and is also implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African-American academic.
Once there, she is plunged into a United States in which race, identity, politics, and promise all reverberate in every aspect of daily life. Working with-- and sometimes against-- the police, Sigrid has to negotiate local political minefields as well as the backwoods of the Adirondacks to uncover the truth before anything happens to her brother.
American by Day is loosely connected with Derek B. Miller's Norwegian by Night, a book that I loved. Sigrid was the police officer in charge of tracking down octogenarian Sheldon Horowitz, and now she has her own story. She's still recuperating from how that last investigation turned out, and in many ways, she's not ready to conduct another manhunt, but the missing man is her brother, and so she must.
Sigrid is a deep thinker. For example, she wonders if she would've done the same thing in her (Norwegian by Night) investigation if the knife-wielding man had been a native Norwegian. As she tries to find her brother in the United States shortly before Barack Obama is elected president in 2008, she also finds herself thinking, "What would Sheldon do?" Her American counterpart is another deep thinker, Sheriff Irving Wylie, and their philosophical talks touch upon many subjects like race and guns. The sheriff finds this particular Norwegian to be fascinating and unusual. At first, he even wonders if she has Asperger's Syndrome, and when Sigrid says things like "It's hard to ignore the moose sitting on your waffle," he's just plain baffled. But he's enjoying himself because he's not your usual bumpkin country cop.
American by Day is a good story, and I liked the interaction between Sigrid and the sheriff, but-- probably because I've been paying too much attention to the present state of this country-- those philosophical talks about race and gun control dragged the story down for me. Miller wanted his book to be more than a simple mystery about tracking down an alleged killer. He had some important things to say, and he said them. Unfortunately, I was more in the mood for a simple mystery. If you're in the right mood, I think this is a book you could really enjoy.
American by Day by Derek B. Miller
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt © 2018
Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Amazon Vine