"An intimate study of broken lives that showcases Fossum’s poet past." —Bloomberg
In this chilling addition to the internationally best-selling Inspector Konrad Sejer series, the detective must face down his memories and fears as he investigates the deaths of two troubled young men. The first victim, Jon Moreno, was getting better after a mysterious guilt had driven him to a nervous breakdown one year earlier. His psychiatrist said so, as did his new friend at the hospital, Molly Gram, with her little-girl-lost looks. So when he drowns in Dead Water Lake, Sejer hesitates to call it a suicide.
Then the corpse of another young man is found, a Vietnamese immigrant. And Sejer begins to feel his age weigh on him. Does he still have the strength to pursue the elusive explanations for human evil? A harrowing, masterfully wrought mystery from the celebrated Karin Fossum.
“Fascinatingly readable and very cleverly done.” —Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse series
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
THE LAKE, WHICH WAS commonly known as Dead Water, lay like a well between steep mountains, and anyone who tried to wade into it would sink up to their knees in its soft mud. On the shore, partially hidden by spruce trees, sat a small log cabin. Axel Frimann was looking out of the window. It was almost midnight on September 13 and the moon cast a pale blue light across the water. There was something magical about it all. At any moment, Axel imagined, a water sprite might rise from the depths. Just as the image came to him, he thought he saw a ripple in the water as though something was about to surface. But nothing happened and a smile, which no one noticed, crossed his face.
He turned to the other two and suggested that they should go rowing. “Have you seen the light,” he said, “it’s really cool.”
Philip Reilly was reading. He tossed his long hair.
“Yes, why not?” he said. “A trip on the lake. What do you say, Jon?”
Jon Moreno was lost in the flames of the fireplace. The fire made him feel warm and dizzy. In his hand he held a blister pack of anti-anxiety pills and every four hours he pressed one through the foil and put it in his mouth.
Did he want to go out on the lake?
He looked at Axel and Reilly. There is something about their eyes, something evasive, he thought, but then again, I’m not quite myself, I’m ill, I’m taking medication, calm down, they’re my friends, they just want what’s best for me. But he did not want to go out on the lake, not in the middle of the night in the cold moonlight. He did not trust himself completely. In here by the fire he felt safe, in here between the timber walls, in the company of his friends, because they were his friends, weren’t they? He tried to catch Reilly’s eye, but Reilly had got up and was fumbling with something on a shelf.
“It’s important that you get some exercise,” Axel said. “Sitting still only makes your anxiety worse. You need to get your blood circulating, get it delivering oxygen to your cells. So come on.”
Jon did not want to let them down. They were doing this for him, they wanted him to have some fun and he did not have much of that at the hospital. Only endless days where nothing ever happened, spent wandering up and down the corridors. They were smiling at him, encouraging him now, Axel with his dark eyes, Reilly with his gray ones. So he got up from the chair and put the blister pack in his pocket. He never went anywhere without it. He reached out for his cell phone which lay on the table, but changed his mind. His anxiety hummed through his body like an electric current. Somewhere a demon is flicking a switch, on and off, on and off, he thought, and I can’t breathe.
“Put your jacket on,” Axel said. “It’s chilly.”
Jon looked around for his jacket. He could not remember where he had put it, but Axel found it and brought it over. Reilly blew out the paraffin lamp and a sudden darkness descended upon them. Jon knelt down to lace up his boots. A knot and a bow followed by another knot. Axel and Reilly waited.
“What about the fire?” Jon asked.
“We won’t be gone long, there’s no danger,” Axel said. “Come on.”
“Shouldn’t we put the fireguard in front of it?”
Axel shrugged. “All right.”
He disappeared into the kitchen and they heard him scrabbling. Then he returned with the fireguard and placed it in front of the fire. The cast-iron fireguard was decorated with two wolves baring their teeth.
Jon looked at the wolves and at his two friends.
“We ready to go then?” Axel said.
Reilly nodded. Jon stuck his hands in his pockets. Axel patted him on the shoulder. His hand was warm and comforting. Trust us, the hand said, we only want what’s best for you, you’re among friends.
It was Friday, September 13. They went out into the dark night and fetched the oars from the shed.
A narrow path led down to the shore of Dead Water.
What People are Saying About This
"I not only enjoyed it but admired it, too. I also found it playing in my head for a long time afterwards, the effect on the reader every writer surely longs for."
— Lesley McDowell, Sunday Herald
"The seventh Inspector Sejer novel from Norway's leading female crime writer is, like its predecessors, a gem."
— Laura Wilson, Guardian
"Few match her ability to conjure an atmosphere of emotional as well as geographical desolation."
— Marcel Berlins, The Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Karin Fossum has been on my radar for a while. I love a good Scandinavian crime novel. Unfortunately, Bad Intentions left me with a ho-hum feeling. Let me say right away that there is graphic violence towards an animal near the end of the book. I understand that the point is to show that one of the characters is evil and unfeeling. However, after reading that portion of the book, I had to put the book down for a few minutes and think about whether I wanted to finish reading. It is rare that I do not finish a book, but this portion of the story really bothered me. The premise of Bad Intentions is that three friends are harboring a dark secret. During a camping trip, one of the friends drowns in Dead Water Lake. Prior to the camping trip, the drowning victim, Jon Moreno, had been staying at an institution where he was receiving counseling for depression and anxiety. The remainder of the novel is spent revealing the secret and how the three friends are connected to the second drowning victim. The book is narrated by several different characters; including Jon Moreno, Moreno's mother, Konrad Sejer and Moreno's friend Reilly. Konrad Sejer plays only a minor role in Bad Intentions. I was not sure if this is normal for the series, but other reviews indicate that he normally plays a larger role. The plot of Bad Intentions seemed pretty average. On a positive note, the book is a quick read. The character of Reilly is complex and proved to be one of my favorite parts of the novel.
Karin Fossum is new to me author and another Nordic author who has made her name known in North America. Bad Intentions is the ninth offering in her Inspector Konrad Sejer series. The book opens with three friends spending a weekend at a cabin. Their interactions seem odd and tainted by an alluded to event in the past. The weekend ends with one of them dead. Inspector Sejer and his partner Inspector Jakob Skarre are called in. The victim Jon Moreno had been hospitalized for depression and was out on a weekend pass with his friends. The friends insist he must have been suicidal, but Jon's new girlfriend doesn't agree. I found Fossum's writing to be very stark, spare and almost bleak. Not in a bad way though. It was just a very different take on a crime novel. There weren't long graphic descriptions of the crime. Instead Fossum focuses on the characters, their inner thoughts and psyches, and she does it very, very well. The thought processes of the two friends left alive are the quite frightening part of this book. The event in the past that has affected the lives of these three young men is slowly revealed - I was eager to see what it was. I appreciated the banter between Sejer and Skarre, but felt I didn't really come to know them in this slim novel. They are protagonists I would like to know better - I would pick up another book by Karin Fossum without hesitation.
3.5 -- I don't read many mysteries, but I read this one for my book club. It kept my interest because several of the characters were interesting, and it was not overly violent and did not include abuse of women and children. Alex was too much a stereotype but Reilly and the female characters were well depicted. I would read another novel by this author.
angst of scandia takes us only so far then becomes too much
A young man is found dead. Everyone saw it as a suicide, except two others knew it wasn’t, and they weren’t about to tell. Inspector Sejer is very good at his job, he should be, he has been at it for years. So when he is called to this scene to investigate, something just doesn’t sit right. The more the inspector and his assistant, Jacob Skarre, dig into the mans past, the more it just confirms his suspicion. Talking to those who knew him and searching through his past, Inspector Sejer is determined to find the truth. Easy to follow with a variety of characters, you will keep reading to see how the inspector works towards his conclusion.