Wednesday, April 04, 2018

American by Day by Derek B. Miller


First Line: Sigrid Ødegård's hands rest on the unopened blue folder as she stares out the window of her office.

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
ISBN: 9781328876652
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt © 2018
Hardcover, 352 pages

Police Procedural
Rating: B
Source: Amazon Vine


 

14 comments:

  1. I've been wondering what this was like, Cathy, mostly because I liked Norwegian by Night so well. Hmm..maybe I'll try it when I'm in the mood for a very deep-thinking mystery...

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  2. I'm still pondering the 'moose and the waffle' comment. LOL

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  3. I just got this book out of the library and can't wait to start it.
    I don't mind the political commentary as long as it adds to the national conversation and doesn't just rehash what we see on the news shows every day. And as long as it's presented in an interesting way.
    I loved Norwegian by Night and Sheldon Horowitz, so I hope I'll like this book. But without the 82-year-old Jewish curmudgeon there will be a big gap.

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    1. I have to admit that I did miss Sheldon a lot.

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  4. I really needed a funny read -- and this one is just spot on. After reading some very heavy books (emotionally, not in weight), novels, wanting to stay away from brutal, bloody murders, I have opened up this book.

    I have read 70 pages and am laughing out loud. What a dialogue between Sigrid and Irv. It's hilarious.

    So I'm out of my slump and now don't want to put the book down. Up all night and tomorrow, too, I imagine. Need cookies and tea, will be happy.

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    1. It's always good to hear someone getting out of a reading slump. Congratulations!

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  5. Happiness is reading the right book at the right time ... seriously. With the right snacks, of course.

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  6. And now I see the book is verging into political territory and social justice -- and yet Sigrid and Irv are still are funny pair. I am recommending this book to friends and I'm only 1/3 of the way through.

    A friend who lives in upstate NY would love this, I think.

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    1. I love the fact that you're already recommending it to friends, Kathy.

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  7. I'm already dreading that this book will end and hope Derek B. Miller is writing another book with this protagonist. What a book! Excellent.

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    1. I'm so glad you're loving this book!

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