To open a book is to open a world of new experiences, discoveries and insights. The more we read, the more we know, and the more we know the more questions we can ask. My books are about the real world, the world we see around us, about murders and other crimes that arise from social injustice. Sooner or later, our society’s failures land on the police, so the police force provides an excellent vantage point for observing, not only those failures, but also the society behind them. It has been my starting point in the creation of realistic crime fiction.
For almost twenty years I worked as a chief investigator. I have been physically close to multiple murderers, rapists and robbers; spent hours with them and been completely inside their heads. Such experiences provide insight into why criminals do what they do. Obviously valuable to me as a writer, they have also taught me a lot about being human. I have discovered that in almost all people, even the worst criminals, who have committed atrocities and created despair and destruction, there is something good. I write ‘good’ for want of a better word, understanding that this truth can be hard to accept. My interest as both investigator and author has always been to explore this duality, to seek a glimpse of something human behind even the harshest and most inhuman facade. In many ways this has shaped me as a human being and this, I believe, is visible in my books.
Behind police barricades I walked among the detritus of serious criminal activity. Often I met victims but, too often, only their dependents and survivors. Interrogating the perpetrators I stood face to face with anger, grief, and despair, but it was all valuable. It taught me a lot about life, changed my outlook, and provided a nuanced view of crime, criminals and victims. We have more in common with them than we usually care to admit. In fact, very little separates us and it is this central understanding, based on difficult but repeated experience, which provides the nerve of authenticity that animates my books. Literature enables escape from reality, but it also enables a better understanding of that same reality.
Jorn Lier Horst
Author of The Hunting Dogs – awarded The Glass Key as best Nordic crime novel in 2013.