Karin Fossum Sunday, Jun 12 2011 

First things first: I have to credit Florida writer Glynn Marsh Alam, creator of the Luanne Fogarty Mysteries, with turning me on to Norwegian writer Karin Fossum. I met Glynn at the Cape Fear Crime Festival and we shared our favorite authors. Once I started on Fossum’s Inspector Sejer series, I gobbled them up, and I promise, you will, too.

Fossum has written poetry and general fiction but her award-winning crime novels have now been translated into sixteen languages. Her inspector has been dubbed “the Morse of the fjords” as he uses his intellect, reasoning, and knowledge of human nature to solve the crimes that fall across his path. Fossum’s coastal Norwegian settings and small villages are brought to life, but the novels are character-driven, as she displays an understanding of the psychology of her characters, as does Sejer, and writes from the points of view of all the main participants. For some reason, two of the Sejer novels remain untranslated, but the publication dates I’ll give you are the US editions. Today’s blog will cover the first three. While you can read them and enjoy them in any order, you follow the trajectory of Sejer’s personal life if you read them in order. He is extremely likableand appealing, conflicted in veryhuman ways, and very fond of his huge Leonberger, Kollberg.

2002 Don’t Look Back:    This novel won both The Riverton Prize and the Glass Key for Best Nordic Detective Novel.

In a rural village such as the ones most of Fossum’s characters inhabit, a young child, Ragnhild, goes missing. The frantic search for her reveals the naked, dead body of a well-known and well-liked schoolgirl. Annie often babysat for most of the families on her road; she was strong and intelligent.  Investigating her untimely death are Inspector Konrad Sejer and his colleague Jacob Skorre, both likable, but distinctly different. As he investigates, Sejer uncovers layers of distrust that run through the village. From page one, Fossum has the reader hooked with a tension that never lets up. Annie is drawn for Sejer in the words of the people he interviews. He tried to reconstruct the murder by retracing Annie’s last moments and chillingly succeeds. The book is filled with the crisscrossed stories that maintain the tension, as the patient Sejer unravels the stories and red herrings of people’s secrets with the ones that lead to Annie’s murderer.

2003 Hear Who Fears the Wolf:           Errki is a schizophrenic who escapes from a mental institution and is seen in the area when the horrifically murdered body of elderly widow Halldis Horn is found on her doorstep.

A young obese boy who lives in a nearby group home find the body and alerts the police. The case swings into action just as Sejer is literally thrust into the middle of a bank robbery with a hostage taken that  same morning. Trying not to be sidetracked by the hostage situation, Sejer and Skarre begin to track down both criminals. As he searches for these strange criminals, Sejer comes up against small-town prejudices that twist every version of the information he seeks to collect. Fossum’s gives the reader extraordinary insight into the psychologically warped mind and the lives which have been marginalized because of it. She is every bit as good as getting inside the psyche of children or adults.

2004 When the Devil Holds the Candle: 

This novel won the Gumshoe Award for Best European Crime Novel.

Two teenaged punks steal a young mother’s purse with dramatic and unforeseen consequences. The events they set into action tie what at first appear to be loose threads and unrelated perspectives, but are skillfully woven in Fossum’s hands.

When one of the delinquent’s disappears, Sejer doesn’t immediately connect the two crimes. The chilling and awful truth unfolds inside an old woman’s home. Fossum has Sejer do his usual digging beneath the surface of the quiet life in the small towns she features in her novels. It is to her credit that she understands how chillingly violence destroys everyday life, and that she is able to bring these places and these characters to life.

In subsequent blog I’ll discuss the next 3 Sejer novels available in the US, but don’t wait! Get started now on a series you’ll find impossible to put down.

The Disappeared Monday, Feb 28 2011 

This reader is happy to report that M. R. Hall’s sequel to his stunning debut, The Coroner, is just as intriguing.

In The Disappeared, seven years have elapsed since the disappearance and presumed death of two young Muslim students. The case comes before Jennie’s court when the boys can be declared legally dead. A final declaration is up to the inquest that coroner Jenny Cooper must conduct.

As her investigation ensues, Jenny picks up the unmistakable stench of corruption, with the British Secret Services playing a role. Her case takes turn after turn, building toward a shocking collection of power and influence. Her investigation meets with a determined and sometimes menacing resistance.  At the same time, a Jane Doe corpse and a missing nuclear scientist cross her path.

Adding to Jenny’s anxiety are her problems with her teen son, Ross, who disapproves of her every move; her relationship with her neighbor Steve; and the emotions stirred up by the appearance of a lawyer with a spotty past who just may hold the key to her entire investigation.

Hall does a good job of intertwining Jenny’s personal problems, including her recurring anxiety confronting a gap in her childhood memory. Bringing his skills as a lawyer and screenwriter to his novels, this series promises to be continuing revelation.

Burning Wire Monday, Dec 20 2010 

With the chilly weather we’ve been having, it seems the perfect time to talk about Jeffrey Deaver’s Burning Wire.

Once again, quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme has his love, NYPD Det. Amelia Sachs, as his legs, eyes, and ears on a crime scene. The weapon of choice this time is electricity, an invisible but deathly utility most of us take for granted. Without it, modern society would grind to a halt. New Yorkers face this threat when their power grid is attacked. The killer uses huge arc flashes combined with high voltage to create a heat so searing it melts steel and sets his human victims on fire.

Assisted by Officer Ron Pulaski, and FBI agent Fred Dellray undercover on the street, Rhyme moves quickly to halt these terrifying attacks as they escalate. Suddenly terrifying demand letters begin to appear, and Rhyme’s team works frantically to find the perpetrators, fighting time and a lack of forensic evidence.

At the same time, Rhyme is trying to unearth his nemesis, a hired killer called the Watchmaker, one of the few criminals to have escaped Rhyme’s capture. Leads point to Mexico, and Rhyme struggles to conduct both investigations, fighting time and his own limitations.

Once gain, Deaver manages to succinctly convey the palpably frustrating situation of Lincoln Rhyme, a man whose intellect fights constantly with the needs of his body.  His capable assistant Thom is back, keeping Rhyme functioning despite the toil of stress on his body, and giving the reader a disturbing but fascinating look into what it takes to keep a quadriplegic alive on a daily basis. The white boards, which catalog the evidence for the reader and Rhyme to see at a glance, are back, too.  This is Deaver at the top of his form, with plot twists and rapid pacing that will keep you reading long after you should have turned out the light.

Lee Lofland

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews