First novel translated into French by the Norwegian Heine Bakkeid, 46, I will miss you tomorrow opens a trilogy around an archetypal character from the thriller: a cop who got loose, physically and psychologically damaged. Thorkild Aske, emeritus police officer, trained in the United States in the most advanced interrogation techniques, was struck off until the end of his life. There, he just got out of prison where he tried to kill himself, oscillates between “Who am I really, monster or demon?” and “In what state I wander ?”, meds carbide – antidepressants, anxiolytics, painkillers. But also laxatives, a feature for the blow little observed in the genre.
Constipation, therefore, regularly knocks Aske in half. It gives rise to an enema scene in a hospital. “The glacier is released. Slowly but surely, the forces of nature are guiding the ancient behemoth on smooth, freshly oiled paths. We reached a crescendo, the purge began, and the song on the radio ended in a scream. “Finally!”, I sigh, pushing my elbows into my thighs. “
But Thorkild Aske (who is also the narrator) is as organic as he is metaphysical, often goes into delirious parentheses where, in particular, he sees Frei, the young woman whose death he caused. He awaits these moments of reunion, struggles to provoke them. Even though Frei was lying to him, played with him. At the same time, the twisted cop scans his sister Liz, a battered woman, with relentless acuity. “She is also endowed with a unique ability to recover from her disappointments, always weighed down by a few extra pounds, but she gets up, hides her bruises, dresses up psychological attacks and lets herself be invaded again by the good. While being filled with desperate fantasies of perfection – the perfect husband, the perfect friend, the perfect brother.» Heine Bakkeid has a lush pen, alternates tones and registers, by turns caustic, sensitive, factual, dreamlike, descriptive, fantastic. He also excels in very classic thriller scenes, such as this interrogation scene where the ex-investigator is on the spot, facing his former boss who conscientiously rolls him down.
Delusions of beauty (morbid)
Drifting wreck, Thorkild Aske bends over a drowned man. At least, we suppose it: a young man disappeared on an island in the far north, where he had gone to transform a lighthouse into a hotel. His distraught parents begged Aske, whom the employment agency only considered in a telephone call center, to go and investigate. It will be about the storm, the medium, the headless woman, Russian prostitutes and vomit, among other things, resulting in a kind of paradoxically flamboyant Gothic novel – we think of Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. With, for the reader (but also for Aske himself, sometimes), this constant question: hallucination, or not? For example, this surreal scene, where Aske sees a woman’s corpse stolen by a frogman.
Some delusions are very beautiful (morbid), such as meeting in a nightclub with “The faceless woman” : «Again I lean over the table and gently scrape the dust off her frozen body. It’s like sweeping soot off an old snowman, the dirt sliding in the wake of my fingers, leaving blackish threads on the shiny ice sheet. Below I see her purplish skin, covered with bronze cadaveric lividities.»
Sometimes Heine Bakkeid goes a bit long, for example on interrogation techniques or an autopsy. That doesn’t prevent you from already wanting to know what will happen to the celestial tramp Thorkild Aske, and to this chiaroscuro writing.
I will miss you tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid, translated from Norwegian by Cécile Romand-Monnier, Equinox, 455 pp, 20.90 euros.