Reptile Memoirs

Dreamscape Media. Mar. 2022. tr. from Norwegian by Alison McCullough. 12:42 hrs. ISBN 9781666535808. $17.99. THRILLER
Set in Norway from 2005 to 2017, Ulstein’s twisty debut commands attention. The many unusual characters (including a python) and shifting times and viewpoints are compelling. Narrator Julie Maisey excels in her depiction of Mariam Linn, who becomes outraged with her 11-year-old daughter and leaves her to make her way home alone. Seven hours later, Mariam returns home to find that her daughter has not returned, which horrifies her husband and ignites an intense police investigation. Mariam conducts her own search, and her bizarre past emerges, revealing a connection to Liv, a young woman in 2003 who behaved unpredictably, buying a snake and forming an unhealthy attachment to him. This is a riveting but painful story, emotively presented by Maisey, who imbues the story with an ongoing sense of foreboding. The police procedural is intriguing, and while few characters are appealing, they are well drawn. In particular, detective Roe Olsvik is wonderfully rendered as both patient and introspective.
VERDICT The persistent listener will be rewarded with an extraordinary story and a satisfying audiobook experience.
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