Katharina-koden The Katharina Code

William Wisting #11

It’s that time of the year. For the twenty-fourth time, William Wisting gets out the papers from when Katharina Haugen disappeared. The case was never solved, and every year since Wisting has called on Katharina’s husband, Martin Haugen. The steady contact between the police inspector and the bereaved husband has over the years developed into a friendship. But this year, Haugen’s house stands empty and dark when Wisting arrives. On the anniversary of his wife’s disappearance, Martin Haugen has gone missing.

The same day, Kripos investigator Adrian Stiller comes to see Wisting. A young cold case investigator for the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos), Stiller has uncovered a connection between Katharina’s disappearance and the missing person case he’s working on. The two must join efforts, but the collaboration with the complex Stiller will be a challenge for the experienced Wisting. The two driven investigators must all the same find a starting point they can agree on, and use their combined capabilities to solve the case.

The Katharina Code is the first installment in Jørn Lier Horst’s compelling and already critically acclaimed new crime series, the Cold Case Quartet.


Shortlisted for Vrij Nederland’s Thriller of the Year The Netherlands 2021
The Petrona Award (Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year) UK 2019
Longlisted for the CWA International Dagger UK 2019
Close award list


  • “After devouring Ordeal […] we impatiently immerse ourselves in The Katharina Code. And we are not disappointed.”

    Le Temps, France

  • “A good police procedural in a Nordic setting, peopled with well-drawn characters.”

    Choice Magazine, UK

  • “We are deeply impressed by this police procedural. [The Katharina Code is] a psychological chess game in which both the characters and the dialogue excel.”


    Vrij Nederland, The Netherlands

  • “Is William Wisting the Nordic [Jules] Maigret? At the very least he possesses a similarly farsighted and cool attitude as Georges Simenon’s Paris commissioner. /…/ The Katharina Code is an excellent detective story with an emphasis on the psychological features of the narrative. The plot progresses without haste and is quite credible. The human side of criminal investigation, and the ability of a good detective to understand people and their motives, emerge as key factors.”

    Helsingin Sanomat, Finland

  • “This is no nostalgic reminiscing, but an insightful piece about seeing an old problem with new eyes.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “Thrilling.”

    Gefle Dagblad, Sweden

  • “Bestselling Jo Nesbø isn’t the only Norwegian crime writer to count on. Give Jørn Lier Horst and his highly sympathetic inspector William Wisting a chance.”

    Arbetarbladet, Sweden

  • “Thrillingly told about cold cases /…/ Jørn Lier Horst is a reliable Norwegian crime writer who has written about Wisting several times. The result is always good; not so much violence and blood, but all the more clever policework. Wisting’s daughter Line, a competent journalist, is a compelling side character as well. ”

    Skaraborgs Allehanda, Sweden

  • “Norwegian bestselling author, former policeman Jørn Lier Horst delivers yet another adept story. /…/ Without excessive complications, unnecessary frills and decorations in his style, [Lier Horst] writes in a bare and sober prose which one still may refer to as masculine. In the style of the genre’s founder, Ed McBain.”

    Politiken, Denmark

  • “The Katharina Code is a story told in a refreshingly unhurried manner. The plot is sterling, but definitely serves the purpose of allowing one to dwell on humanity’s need for – and difficulty in – forming close relationships with one another. The first book in the Cold Case Quartet paves the road for stories containing important existential questions that will add to the pure investigative elements.”

    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • “It’s thrilling and well-narrated /…/ I look forward to reading the upcoming novels and am excited to see what old cases appear. /…/ The author is an expert when it comes to characters, and I’m crazy about William Wisting as well as his family, and colleagues at the Larvik police.”

    Litteratursiden, Denmark

  • “I’m crazy about Jørn Lier Horst’s style of writing and crime fiction, where the story and the human character traits are front-and-center and a theme is used as the fulcrum of the story – in this [novel] it’s the theme of lies, and what they do to people.”

    Bogblogger.dk, Denmark

  • “The suspense is carefully escalated, piece by piece, clue by clue. It’s liberating to read a crime novel where the painstaking police work is at the center, and conveyed in Lier Horst’s quiet, flowing, and unaffected prose. /…/ The novel vibrates with anticipation all the way to the finish.”


    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “Jørn Lier Horst has written a novel that leaves a mark. The author has employed literary devices one only rarely finds in a crime novel. And he’s succeeded marvelously. /…/ The novel is engaging and has an inherent momentum that makes it hard to put down before you’ve read the last page. The Katharina Code is the best and most ingenious [novel] that Jørn Lier Horst has written thus far.”


    Tvedestrandsposten, Norway

  • “Old mysteries become as if new.”

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • The Katharina Code has a plot one could imagine taking place in the real world, without one’s imagination having to run amok. And still it is more suspenseful than almost all else in the genre. /…/ The Katharina Code is a graspable story that never loses itself in sensationalistic intrigue or overdone action. That’s exactly why it’s so impressive that it succeeds in maintaining its intensity all the way.”

    Dagsavisen, Norway

  • “With The Katharina Code Jørn Lier Horst again delivers an excellent crime novel with a credible plot /…/ He simultaneously shows that he’s mastered the criminal code even better. It’s undeniably a tremendous reading experience when you as you read can play around with different answers, and maybe almost have it solved, but know all the same that it’s probably not quite right. /…/ All that remains is to declare that Jørn Lier Horst impresses again. That he’s counted among one of the country’s foremost crime authors is no surprise.”


    Østlands-Posten, Norway

  • “Believable and thrilling criminal mysteries from Horst.”

    Aftenposten, Norway

  • “Horst invites the readers to join the investigation in a credible manner that highlights professional practices [in the police] and generates a new kind of suspense.”


    Bok 365, Norway

  • “Jørn Lier Horst has truly done it this time. /…/ Exceptionally well-executed.”


    Tønsbergs Blad, Norway

  • “It can hardly get any better /…/ Jørn Lier Horst only gets better and better. And he was damn good before. /…/ His The Katharina Code is a beautiful crime story /…/ Horst shines. He leads us in one direction only to suddenly turn the wheel, without it feeling forced. He gives us portents that he then elegantly chooses not to use; he shows us how coincidences are, well, just coincidences. And how there is nonetheless an intentional nature to the actions that people try to hide. And best of all: the suspense is on another level than the simple who-dunnit – here there’s an internal drama almost no other Norwegian crime author is capable of matching.”


    Stavanger Aftenblad, Norway

  • “The untangling [of the mystery], the tactics, and the climax keep the suspense at a solid Horst level.”


    Trønder Avisa, Norway

Photo: Anton Soggiu Jørn Lier Horst
  • Crime
Reading material

Norwegian edition

English edition

Rights sold

Canada, Simon & Schuster / Scribner

Czech Republic, Zlin

Denmark, Modtryk

Estonia, Eesti Raamat

Finland, Otava

France, Gallimard

Germany, Piper

Greece, Dioptra

Hungary, Animus

Japan, Shogakukan

Latvia, Zvaigzne ABC

Lithuania, Baltos Lankos

Netherlands, Bruna

Norway, Gyldendal

Poland, Smak Slowa

Portugal, Dom Quixote

Romania, Trei

Slovakia, Premedia

Sweden, Wahlström & Widstrand

UK, Michael Joseph

Ukraine, Nora-Druk

US, Simon & Schuster / Scribner

Film rights sold

Norway, Cinenord

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