'Watch out Jo Nesbo!' is printed in a bright red circle on the front of I'M TRAVELLING ALONE. It seemed like a rather brave claim to be making before starting this book, and bordering on rash having now finished it.
The characterisations are reasonably good. There's a partnership of the highly predictable kind with the sane, placid veteran Holger Munch steering a team of investigators trying to work out who is responsible for the shocking death of very young girls. At his side, by his choice despite her objections, his colleague Mia Krüger is damaged and difficult, tortured by past deaths and her background. These two have a working relationship that confounds some of their colleagues, but then most of them don't understand the history between these two.
The plot, on the other hand, is slightly less predictable in that somebody is killing young girls. Dressing them in doll's clothes, leaving them with the tag 'I'm travelling alone' attached to them somehow. Knowing that there is a number carved into the first victim's fingernail obviously indicates that there will be more victims, but it's not until the investigation tracks down the source of the doll's clothes that they discover exactly what they are dealing with.
The opening salvo in this book instantly grabs, but things do slow down pretty quickly. Partly because of a lot of heavy lifting required in getting a couple of very complicated back-stories fleshed out, and partly because there's a lot of details in the investigation, and a lot of descriptive passages, long conversations and journey's into those back-stories at what is frequently an inopportune moment in terms of plot pace. Needless to say reader's with a preference for action over exposition are likely to get a little frustrated, whilst those looking for something wordier and more descriptive might be more at home here.
Plot advancement is handled reasonably fairly and there are plenty of twists and turns, although readers paying close attention will be able to make some relatively accurate assumptions about a lot of elements, although perhaps not the entire solution.
Despite some reservations, I'M TRAVELLING ALONE is a debut which is building a couple of central characters into a good, standard styling of a broken pair of dedicated detectives, in a series which part police procedural, part noir and part exploration of the human condition. Hopefully once the character setup is completed, future outings will be able to concentrate more on plot and pace.