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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PRAISE FOR DON'T LOOK BACK
"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."-THE NEW Y ORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"Sejer belongs alongside the likes of Adam Dalgliesh and Inspector Morse-a gifted detective and troubled man, whom I am grateful to have met and look forward to knowing better."
-THE BOSTON GLOBE