Noir, in its purest form, is an exaggeration of life itself, a wheel of fortune: For every one that goes up, one goes down, or, to quote an old favourite song of mine by Jimmy Cliff: The harder they come, the harder they fall. This is very much the case with my ex-boxer Harry Kvist in DOWN FOR THE COUNT – the second instalment in THE STOCKHOLM TRILOGY, my take on  “Nordic Noir”. On a cold November day a freezing wind greets debt collector Harry Kvist when he is released from Långholmen jail in Stockholm following eighteen months of imprisonment. There, he leaves his lover who is serving six months for stealing a loaf of bread. However, the young man will be released only one week after Kvist, and Kvist is already dreaming of a new life together, regardless of what people have to say about their relationship: all he has to do is stay out of trouble. And he does … for about half an hour. A dear friend has been killed, and her disabled son Petrus is accused of the murder. In the first instalment – CLINCH – Kvist gave his word that he would look after Petrus if something happened to her: and a promise is a promise: “it’s always honour and glory all the bloody way, but when you think about it, those are the only things the poor have”. The countdown has begun: racing against time, Harry is determined to solve the case and avenge his friend, no matter what, and all within one week. Will he make it? The clock is ticking, and it’s ticking fast.

DOWN FOR THE COUNT by Martin Holmen is published by Pushkin Vertigo on 13th July, £8.99 Paperback

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