Don't Look Back (Inspector Sejer Series #2)

( 18 )

Overview

"At the foot of the Kollen Mountain lies an idyllic Norwegian village, where neighbors know neighbors and children play happily in the streets. But when the naked body of a teenage girl is found by the lake at the mountaintop, the town's tranquility is shattered forever. Annie was strong, intelligent, and loved by everyone. What went so terribly wrong?" Inspector Sejer is called to investigate. Doggedly, yet subtly, he uncovers layer upon layer of distrust and lies beneath the seemingly perfect facade. When another death - thought to be ...
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Don't Look Back (Inspector Sejer Series #2)

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Overview

"At the foot of the Kollen Mountain lies an idyllic Norwegian village, where neighbors know neighbors and children play happily in the streets. But when the naked body of a teenage girl is found by the lake at the mountaintop, the town's tranquility is shattered forever. Annie was strong, intelligent, and loved by everyone. What went so terribly wrong?" Inspector Sejer is called to investigate. Doggedly, yet subtly, he uncovers layer upon layer of distrust and lies beneath the seemingly perfect facade. When another death - thought to be accidental - comes to light in the course of the investigation, the case takes a terrifying turn.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Don't Look Back, the first of Karin Fossum's police procedurals to be published in the United States, is set in a picturesque Norwegian village at the foot of a mountain, in a valley at the edge of the sea. But there's no mistaking this psychologically astute, subtly horrifying crime study for a cozy village mystery, or its soulful detective for one of those brainy European sleuths who make a parlor game of homicide. — Marilyn Stasio
The Washington Post
Fossum's novels starring Inspector Konrad Sejer have been critically acclaimed throughout Europe, and it's easy to see why. Sejer is one of those deadpan police philosopher types the Northern climes generate. — Maureen Corrigan
Publishers Weekly
In Fossum's moody and subtle U.S. debut, the fifth in her Inspector Sejer series, the popular Norwegian mystery writer displays her mastery of psychological suspense. Richly drawn characters reveal much about Norwegian society, though the setting, a picturesque valley town northwest of Oslo, isn't distinctive. A little girl disappears from her middle-class neighborhood, then returns home unharmed. Meanwhile, the search party discovers the nude corpse of a teenager, Annie Holland, and Fossum seamlessly shifts the story to a murder investigation, using several points of view to create red herrings that add to the suspense. Both girls lived in the same claustrophobic community where the residents claim to know one another but, naturally, don't really. With few clues and no witnesses, seasoned Inspector Konrad Sejer and his eager young assistant Jacob Skarre must uncover the hidden relationships and secrets they hope will lead to the killer of the well-liked, talented Annie. When they learn that the victim's behavior changed suddenly eight months earlier after a child she babysat died by accident, the plot shifts course again and drives to a stunning conclusion and ominous final scene. With the intuitive, introspective Sejer, a widower who lives alone with his dog and still grieves for his late wife, Fossum has created a fine character whom readers will want to get to know better. (Mar. 22) Forecast: Fans of Swedish author Henning Mankell will like this book, as will those who go for loner cops like Bill James's Charlie Resnick or Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus. U.S. publishers seem to be catching on that good mysteries by contemporary foreign, non-English-speaking authors can sell. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Small-town policemen Sejer and Skarre struggle with the case of a murdered teenager whose death occurred while another girl, who is six, goes missing. The little girl is in fact the first to spot the body-on her way back home-and notifies police through her mother. At first baffled, Sejer and Skarre interrogate neighbors, confirm the cause of death, then subtly root deeper to uncover untruths and expose the culprit. Disarmingly simple prose disguises the complicated plot and characters. Called "Norway's Queen of Crime," Fossum is a major European mystery writer, and this is her first U.S. publication. Fans of such Scandinavian crime writers as Henning Mankell, Helene Turnsten, and Per Wahlee and Maj Sjewal will snap this up. Strongly recommended for most collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Murder strikes a placid Norwegian village in this deceptively understated novel, the first of veteran Fossum's to appear in the US. The quietly nasty surprises begin when nice young Raymond Låke, who has Down's Syndrome, picks up little Ragnhild Album and takes her to his incapacitated father's farm to visit the rabbits. As the police search for the girl, experienced readers will be holding their breath in pained anticipation, but all for naught; Ragnhild returns home none the worse for wear except for a tale about a teenaged schoolgirl she and Raymond saw lying up near Serpent Tarn. The girl was naked except for an anorak covering her still body. Medical evidence indicates that Annie Holland drowned without a single mark of violence, and that she would have died anyway within a few months from ovarian cancer that had spread to her liver. So why would someone have taken the trouble to kill her, undress her after death, and arrange her peacefully at the side of the lake? Inspector Konrad Sejer, a family man still mourning his late wife, proceeds methodically by questioning Annie's neighbors and friends, but although no one has a harsh word for her, they all seem to have secrets of their own, from a traumatic family suicide to a long-buried conviction for rape. Which of those secrets was worth killing to preserve? Top-drawer evidence that a practiced hand can still ring memorably creepy changes on the classic whodunit.
From the Publisher
U.K. PRAISE FOR DON’T LOOK BACK
“Shows just how well Fossum deserves her continental fame . . . It is a tribute to [her] skill that, even when the mystery is unraveled, the reader shares Sejer’s pained understanding of the killer’s deed.”—SUNDAY T I M E S (LONDON)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156031363
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Series: Inspector Sejer Series , #2
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 324
  • Sales rank: 125,987
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

KARIN FOSSUM is the author of the internationally successful Inspector Konrad Sejer crime series. Her recent honors include a Gumshoe Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for mystery/thriller.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Ragnhild opened the door cautiously and peered out. Up on the road everything was quiet, and a breeze that had been playing among the buildings during the night had finally died down. She turned and pulled the doll's carriage over the threshold.

"We haven't even eaten yet," Marthe complained.

She helped push the carriage.

"I have to go home. We're going out shopping," Ragnhild said.

"Shall I come over later?"

"You can if you like. After we've done the shopping."

She was on the gravel now and began to push the carriage toward the front gate. It was heavy going, so she turned it around and pulled it instead.

"See you later, Ragnhild."

The door closed behind her-a sharp slam of wood and metal. Ragnhild struggled with the gate, but she mustn't be careless. Marthe's dog might get out. He was watching her intently from beneath the garden table. When she was sure that the gate was properly closed, she started off across the street in the direction of the garages. She could have taken the shortcut between the buildings, but she had discovered that it was too difficult with the carriage. Just then a neighbor closed his garage door. He smiled at her and buttoned up his coat, a little awkwardly, with one hand. A big black Volvo sat in the driveway, rumbling pleasantly.

"Well, Ragnhild, you're out early, aren't you? Hasn't Marthe got up yet?"

"I slept over last night," she said. "On a mattress on the floor."

"I see."

He locked the garage door and glanced at his watch; it was 8:06 A.M. A moment later he turned the car into the street and drove off.

Ragnhild pushed the carriage with both hands. She had reached the downhill stretch, which was rather steep, and she had to hold on tight so as not to lose her grip. Her doll, who was named Elise-after herself, because her name was Ragnhild Elise-slid down to the front of the carriage. That didn't look good, so she let go with one hand and put the doll back in place, patted down the blanket, and continued on her way. She was wearing sneakers: one was red with green laces, the other was green with red laces, and that's how it had to be. She had on a red sweat suit with Simba the Lion across the chest and a green anorak over it. Her hair was extraordinarily thin and blond, and not very long, but she had managed to pull it into a topknot with an elastic band. Bright plastic fruit dangled from the band, with her sprout of hair sticking up in the middle like a tiny, neglected palm tree. She was six and a half, but small for her age. Not until she spoke would you guess that she was already in school.

She met no one on the hill, but as she approached the intersection she heard a car. So she stopped, squeezed over to the side, and waited as a van with its paint peeling off wobbled over a speed bump. It slowed even more when the girl in the red outfit came into view. Ragnhild wanted to cross the street. There was a sidewalk on the other side, and her mother had told her always to walk on the sidewalk. She waited for the van to pass, but it stopped instead, and the driver rolled down his window.

"You go first. I'll wait," he said.

She hesitated a moment, then crossed the street, turning around again to tug the carriage up on the sidewalk. The van slid forward a bit, then stopped again. The window on the opposite side was rolled down. His eyes are funny, she thought, really big and round as a ball. They were set wide apart and were pale blue, like thin ice. His mouth was small with full lips, and it pointed down like the mouth of a fish. He stared at her.

"Are you going up Skiferbakken with that carriage?"

She nodded. "I live in Granittveien."

"It'll be awfully heavy. What have you got in it, then?"

"Elise," she replied, lifting up the doll.

"Excellent," he said with a broad smile. His mouth looked nicer now.

He scratched his head. His hair was disheveled, and grew in thick clumps straight up from his head like the leaves of a pineapple. Now it looked even worse.

"I can drive you up there," he said. "There's room for your carriage in the back."

Ragnhild thought for a moment. She stared up Skiferbakken, which was long and steep. The man pulled on the handbrake and glanced in the back of the van.

"Mama's waiting for me," Ragnhild said.

A bell seemed to ring in the back of her mind, but she couldn't remember what it was for.

"You'll get home sooner if I drive you," he said.

That decided it. Ragnhild was a practical little girl. She wheeled the carriage behind the van and the man hopped out. He opened the back door and lifted the carriage in with one hand.

"You'll have to sit in back and hold the carriage. Otherwise it'll roll around," he said, and lifted in Ragnhild too.

He shut the back door, climbed into the driver's seat, and released the brake.

"Do you go up this hill every day?" He looked at her in the mirror.

"Only when I've been at Marthe's house. I stayed over."

She took a flowered overnight bag from under the doll's blanket and opened it, checking that everything was in place: her nightgown with the picture of Nala on it, her toothbrush and hairbrush. The van lumbered over another speed bump. The man was still looking at her in the mirror.

"Have you ever seen a toothbrush like this?" Ragnhild said, holding it up for him. It had feet.

"No!" he said. "Where did you get it?"

"Papa bought it for me. You don't have one like it?"

"No, but I'll ask for one for Christmas."

He was finally over the last bump, and he shifted to second gear. It made an awful grinding noise. The little girl sat on the floor of the van steadying the carriage. A very sweet little girl, he thought, red and cute in her sweat suit, like a ripe little berry. He whistled a tune and felt on top of the world, enthroned behind the wheel in the big van with the little girl in the back. Really on top of the world.

The village lay in the bottom of a valley, at the end of a fjord, at the foot of a mountain, like a pool in a river, where the water was much too still. And everyone knows that only running water is fresh. The village was a stepchild of the municipality, and the roads that led there were indescribably bad. Once in a while a bus deigned to stop by the abandoned dairy and pick up people to take them to town. There were no night buses back to the village.

Kollen, the mountain, was a gray, rounded peak, virtually neglected by those who lived there, but eagerly visited by people from far-off places. This was because of the mountain's unusual minerals and its flora, which was exceptionally rare. On calm days a faint tinkling could be heard from the mountaintop; one might almost believe it was haunted. In fact, the sound was from sheep grazing up there. The ridges around the mountain looked blue and airy through the haze, like soft felt with scattered woolen veils of fog.

Konrad Sejer traced the main highway in the road atlas with a fingertip. They were approaching a traffic circle. Police Officer Karlsen was at the wheel, keeping an attentive eye on the fields while following the directions.

"Now you have to turn right onto Gneisveien, then up Skiferbakken, then left at Feltspatveien. Granittveien goes off to the right. A cul-de-sac," Sejer said pensively. "Number 5 should be the third house on the left."

He was tense. His voice was even more brusque than usual.

Karlsen maneuvered the car into the housing development and over the speed bumps. As in so many places, the new arrivals had taken up residence in clusters, some distance from the rest of the local community. Apart from giving directions, the two policemen didn't talk much. They approached the house, trying to steel themselves, thinking that perhaps the child might even be back home by now. Perhaps she was sitting on her mother's lap, surprised and embarrassed at all the fuss. It was 1:00 P.M., so the girl had been missing for five hours. Two would have been within a reasonable margin, five was definitely too long. Their unease was growing steadily, like a dead spot in the chest where the blood refused to flow. Both of them had children of their own: Karlsen's daughter was eight, Sejer had a grandson of four. The silence was filled with images, which might turn out to be correct-this was what struck Sejer as they drew up in front of the house.

Number 5 was a low white house with dark-blue trim. A typical prefab house with no personality, but embellished like a playroom with decorative shutters and scalloped edges on the gables. The yard was well kept. A large veranda with a prettily turned railing ran around the entire building. The house sat almost at the top of the ridge, with a view over the whole village, a small village, quite lovely, surrounded by farms and fields. A patrol car that had come on ahead of them was parked next to the mailbox.

Sejer went first, wiping his shoes carefully on the mat, and ducking his head as he entered the living room. It took them only a second to see what was happening. She was still missing, and the panic was palpable. On the sofa sat the mother, a stocky woman in a gingham dress. Next to her, with a hand on the mother's arm, sat a woman officer. Sejer could almost smell the terror in the room. The mother was using what little strength she had to hold back her tears, or perhaps even a piercing shriek of horror. The slightest effort made her breathe hard, as was evident when she stood up to shake hands with Sejer.

Copyright © Karin Fossum 2002
English translation copyright © Felicity David, 2002

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
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  • Posted March 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Queen of Creep, maybe, Norway's Queen of Crime

    I read this years ago, and it was one of the those mysteries that seemed so very dark--the setting in the cold northern forested mountains, in the gloom of people's lives. It did help to introduce me to a vein of fiction that I have been following ever since. It almost seems as though Scandinavian fiction is an acquired taste: perhaps a little harsh on first exposure, but gradually one develops an insatiable thirst for the unique flavor they impart...For those that find the harsh winter landscapes irresistible, one must recommend the accessible Henning Mankell novels from Sweden, and the Erlendur Sveinsson novels from Iceland.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Keeper

    I just recently started reading Ms. Fossum's book, so I'm not reading them in order of release, but don't think that is a necessity. After reading the Indian Bride, I was hooked. This book was more on the edge of your seat, especially the first and last chapters. I think mystery readers will like this series and I intend to read them all.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2014

    Grabs you right from the start. A young girl is found dead and c

    Grabs you right from the start.
    A young girl is found dead and completely naked except for a jacket gently placed to cover her.  It’s a small town where everyone knows each other.  This is the type of girl everyone loved and could not imagine anyone wanting to hurt, let alone murder her.  A once very athletic girl has a change in her personality and becomes a bit withdrawn, and no one knows why, not even her boyfriend.  But nothing that anyone would want to see her dead.  Inspector Sejer is the man to solve the crime, bit by bit and piece by piece.
    Why is it that the person who took the time to cover the body does not report it to the police?  Was it the killer?  Does the killer have a conscience?  Was it an accident?  But her body was carefully posed and left by the water.  If it wasn’t the killer, why didn’t the person who found her report it?
    So many characters of all kinds keeps you guessing who could have done such a thing.  Short chapters keep you turning pages to see what happens next and who did it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2014

    Nice character development. Thrilling story.

    This is the second of the Inspector Sejer series translated to English. I enjoy the writing and look forward to the endings - I like the suspense generated. She's an excellent storyteller. I intend to read the rest in the series.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Good Read for mystery lovers

    I really enjoy Scandinavian Authors. It was an easy read and held my interest all the way through. I like the small town feel to the police department and there characters. Looking forward to the next book in the series. Wish that the First book was out in English!! I would recommend this book and also books by Camilla Lackberg.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2011

    Masterfully written, involving plot

    Mystery lovers must read this wonderful inspector Sejer mystery. So elegant and subtle yet always keeping the reader on edge. A compelling page turner that propelled me to buy and read whatever is available by Karin Fossum without regrets so far.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2007

    Great Read

    I am surprised to see I am the first to do a review on the book.. I thought it was a good book. The plot was well written although the beginning had me a little worried if you read it you will know what I mean.. But the book turned out to be good and kept you guessing until the end but it was one of those books you were like ah ha I knew it was that person or that it was going to end like that. But I would still recommend it..

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Mindbender

    Claustrophobic. Has its moments but the language is strange, I'd guess because it is a translation. I will read more of this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2014

    another great book from karin fossum

    All of Fossums books are great....this one especially! The only thing I regret is that her books are too short. I would enjoy reading a 400pager by Fossum. She is unique.

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