He Who Fears the Wolf (Inspector Sejer Series #3)

He Who Fears the Wolf (Inspector Sejer Series #3)

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Inspector Sejer is hard at work again, investigating the brutal murder of a woman who lived alone in the middle of the woods. The chief suspect is another loner, a schizophrenic recently escaped from a mental institution. The only witness is a twelve-year-old boy, overweight, obsessed with archery, and a resident at a home for delinquents. When a demented man robs a nearby bank and accidentally takes the suspect hostage, the three misfits are drawn into an uneasy alliance.

Shrewdly, patiently, as is his way, Inspector Sejer confronts a case where the strangeness of the crime is matched only by the strangeness of the criminals, and where small-town prejudices warp every piece of information he tries to collect. Fossum once again provides extraordinary insight into marginalized lives and richly evokes the atmosphere she captured so brilliantly in Don't Look Back.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156030496
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 07/03/2006
Series: Inspector Sejer Series , #3
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 510,514
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)

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. She lives in Norway.

Read an Excerpt

A dazzling ray of light slanted in through the trees.

The shock brought him up short. He wasn't ready. He got out of bed, made his way slowly through the dark house, still half-asleep, and came out onto the front steps. And there he encountered the sun.

It struck his eyes like an awl. He raised his hands to his eyes, but the light kept coming, penetrating cartilage and bone, all the way into the dark of his skull. Everything turned blindingly white inside. His thoughts fled in all directions, shattered into atoms. He wanted to scream, but he never screamed because to do so was beneath his dignity. Instead he clenched his teeth and stood as still as he could on the steps. Something was happening. The skin on his head began to tighten; a tingling sensation that was getting stronger. Trembling, he stood with his hands on his face. He felt his eyes being pulled apart as his nostrils flared, growing as big as keyholes. He whimpered faintly and tried to resist, but he couldn't stop the violent force. Bit by bit his features were erased. All that remained was a naked skull covered with translucent, white skin.

He struggled frantically, moaning as he tried to feel his face, to be sure it was still there. His nose had turned soft and disgusting. He took his hand away-he had ruined what little was left, could feel it sliding off, losing its shape like a rotten plum.

And then it released him. Anxiously he took a breath, and then he felt his face slip back into place. He blinked several times, and opened and shut his mouth. But as he was about to move forward he felt a deep pain in his chest, the sharp claws of an invisible monster. He doubled over, wrapping his arms around his torso to restrain the force that was yanking the skin of his breast tighter and tighter. His nipples vanished into his armpits. The skin on his bare chest grew thinner, the veins stood out like knotty cables, pulsing with black blood. He was bent nearly double, and knew that he was no longer able to resist it.

Suddenly he split open like a troll in the sunlight. His guts and intestines poured out. He tried to keep everything in by seizing hold of the edges of the wound and pulling them together, but it seeped out and ran through his fingers, collecting at his feet like the entrails of a slaughtered animal. His heart was still beating, trapped behind his ribs, terrified, pounding. He stood like that for a long time, bent double and gasping. He opened one eye and cast an anxious glance down his body. His abdominal cavity was empty. The outpour had stopped. He clumsily began to gather up what had come out, stuffing it back in with one hand while he held on to his skin with the other, to prevent it from sliding out again. Nothing was in the right place; there were strange bulges everywhere, but if he could get the wound closed, no one would know. He wasn't made like other people, though this wasn't plain to see. He held on to the skin with his left hand, continuing to shove with his right. At last he got most of it inside again. Only a small spattering of blood was left on the steps. He pressed hard on the wound and felt it starting to close up, breathing cautiously so it would not open again. The sun was still shining through the trees, its white beams as sharp as swords. But he was whole again. Everything had happened too fast. He shouldn't have gone straight from bed out into the sunlight. He had always moved in a different space, seeing the world through a murky veil that took the sting out of the light and the sounds coming from outside. He held the veil in place by concentrating hard. A moment ago he had slipped up, had run out into the new day without taking stock, like a child.

His punishment seemed unreasonably harsh. Because as he slept on the dark bed, he had dreamed about something that made him sit bolt upright and then rush outside without thinking. He closed his eyes and recalled some images. He was looking at his mother at the bottom of the stairs. Out of her mouth gushed warm red blood. Fat and round, wearing a white apron with big flowers, she reminded him of a toppled jug, emptying red gravy. He remembered her voice, always accompanied by a dark velvety tone.

Then he went back inside the house.

This is a story about Errki.

It began like this: at 3 A.M. he left the asylum. We don't refer to it as the asylum, Errki, and even though you sure have the right to call it whatever you like in private, you ought to take other people into consideration and give it a different name. It's a matter of courtesy. Or tact, if you will. Have you ever heard of that?

She was so eloquent, God help her, that her words seemed to seep out of her like oil. After the words came her sound, a shrill electric organ.

"It's called the Beacon," he said, and gave an acid smile. "Those of us here in the Beacon are all one big family. The telephone rings, may I speak to the Beacon please? Could someone get the mail for the Beacon?"

"Precisely. It's all a matter of habit. Everyone has to show a little consideration."

"Not me," he replied in a sullen voice. "I was committed against my will, per Paragraph 5. Dangerous to myself and possibly to others."

He leaned forward and whispered in her ear.

"Thanks to me you can moon around on pay grade 27."

The night nurse shivered. This was the time of day when she felt most vulnerable. This no-man's-land between night and morning, a gray void when the birds stopped singing and you couldn't be sure that they'd ever sing again. When anything might have happened and she didn't yet know about it. She slumped a little, feeling faint. She didn't have the strength to see his pain, to remember who he was, that he was her charge. She simply found him repulsive, self-absorbed, and nasty.

"I realize that," she snapped. "But you've been here for four months now, and as far as I can tell, you seem to like it well enough."

As she said this her lips pursed like the beak of a hen. The organ struck a strident chord.

And so he left. It wasn't hard. The night was warm, and the window was nearly a foot open. It was locked with a steel bar, but he managed to remove the whole bar, using his belt buckle. The building was more than a hundred years old, and the screws came smoothly out of the rotting wood. His room was on the second floor. He jumped out the window as light as a bird and landed on the lawn.

He didn't cross the parking lot but instead headed through the woods toward the small lake, which they called the Well. It didn't matter which route he took. The point was that he didn't want to stay in the Beacon any more.

The lake was beautiful. It didn't put on airs, just lay there without a ripple, resting in the landscape, open and still. Didn't push him away, didn't lure him forward. Didn't touch him. Was simply there. The asylum was only a stone's throw away but invisible because of the trees. Nestor asked him to stop for a moment, and he did. He stared down into the black Well, and thought of Tormod, who was found floating face down in the water, wearing rubber gloves, as always, with his blond hair waving in the greenish black water. He didn't look very good, but then he never had. He was fat and sluggish with colorless eyes, and besides he was stupid. A disgusting, puddinglike fellow who went around asking people to excuse him, afraid of infecting them or of being in the way, afraid that someone would notice his contaminated breath. Now the poor man was with God. Maybe he was sloshing around on a cloud, freed at last from his clammy gloves. Maybe he'd met Errki's mother up there, maybe she was floating on the cloud next to his. Errki loved his mother. The thought of Tormod's fluttering eyes with the blond eyelashes made him swallow hard. He gave a couple of irritated shrugs of his thin shoulders and kept walking.

The dark figure was quite visible against all that light green foliage, but no one saw him. The others were asleep. After his suicide, Tormod was reduced to a practical phenomenon for which they had need: an empty bed. An astonishing transformation. Tormod was no longer Tormod, he was an empty bed. And he, too, would become an empty bed, with the sheets tucked in tight. He listened to the voice and gave a brisk nod. Then he walked on, sauntering through the dense woods. By the time the night nurse arrived to peek into his room, he had been walking for more than two hours. She didn't dare repeat their conversation. "No, I didn't notice anything unusual, he was as he always is." The sun had come up and shone in her face through the window of the staff room where they held their morning meetings. The words burned her throat like acid.

Copyright © J. W. Cappelens Forlag, A. S.
English translation copyright © Felicity David 2003

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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He Who Fears the Wolf 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good one-the characters were strangely likeable and there was some dark humor among the villans. I enjoyed learning more about Insp. Sejer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Its amazing how good of a writer Fossum is. She makes you want to keep reading even when nothing is actually happening in the story. This is a very simply but elegant tale. And I can't wait for her next book.
ChelseaCodyMom More than 1 year ago
It was so well written. Karin Fossum showed her talent in how she got her main characters to build a realtionship with each other when they couldn't accomplish this in their own real worlds.
cincmom More than 1 year ago
Very different, good read. I can't wait to get the next title by this author.
My-Asia Scott More than 1 year ago
This book pulls you end & the out come is not what u think.
steve.clason on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Far better than the first (in English, that is) in the Inspector Sejer series, Don't Look Back, Fossum has created a story that is constrained and circumscribed, in location and character, while still rich in complication and nuance. A good story and also a nice piece of craft.Inspector Sejer is investigating a murder when he almost interrupts an unrelated bank robbery during which the prime murder suspect will be taken hostage. Then it gets complicated, but not so much that Sejer can't encounter a little romantic interest.No, really. Read the book -- it's good and it's fun.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿ A person can¿t see much when the Devil is holding the candle.¿Here¿s the situation: We have a murdered woman, found at her home in the deep woods. Back in town, we have an early morning bank robbery, with a hostage taken. We have an escaped mental patient, last seen roaming the same woods and for good measure, throw in a fat juvenile delinquent, armed with a bow and arrow. How do all these things come together? Well, you¿ll have to read this highly enjoyable mystery, set in Norway, to find out.This is the 2nd book in a series, featuring Inspector Sejer. He is a likable character, despite his taciturn manner and the reader will find much pleasure in tagging along with him, as he attempts to piece together this thorny puzzle. Yes, the subject matter is very dark, but Fossum brings a fresh, sometimes playful, air to the proceedings. I can¿t wait to continue this terrific series.
doko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Terrific psychological examination of the minds of the disaffected, mentally ill and the distraught, wrapped within an interesting murder mystery and played out in well-described northern woods.
gilly1944 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Her best book. Full of atmosphere, good character development and a twist at the end.
vancouverdeb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! What a wonderful read!! I do love my Scandanavian crime thrillers/ myseries and this one really swept me up with the plot and the wonderful insight into the several very disturbed characters. Fossum handles the psychogical aspects with finesse and keeps the tension high. I really could not guess at the ending until very near the end.In He Who Fears the Wolf we have a dead woman who's eye and skull has been bashed open by a hoe. This takes place in a relatively unpoplulated area of Noway where a home for troubled youngsters as well as a mental asylum are both situated. This may sound outlandish -but it is not presented that way. No sooner are Sejer and Skarre on the job -but a bank is robbed and a hostage is taken.I don't want to give away the plot - but this book kept me spellbound, turning the pages with a certain amount of fear. Fossum handles here characters so deftly -as well as the plot. In the end - we are left with quite a thoughtful and largely sympathetic story. Fossum is quickly becomig one of my favourite authors! Highly recommneded for those that love their thrillers/ mysteries to be intelligent, thoughtful and frightening too.4 enthusastic stars!
christiguc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the third book in Norwegian author Karin Fossum¿s Inspector Sejer series. It is the second translated into English and the second I¿ve read.This psychological novel focuses on three misfits and the circumstances that cause them to cross paths. Errki Johrma is a schizophrenic recently escaped from a mental hospital who suffers from severe hallucinations. Kannick Snellingen is an obese young man who lives at the local reform school for boys. Morgan is a bank robber who has the misfortune of grabbing Errki as a hostage in order to enable his escape from his most recent robbery.There is, of course, a mystery and a murder also. Shortly after Errki¿s escape, Halldis Horn, a woman who lives alone on her remote farm, is found brutally slain on her own front porch. Kannick is the first to come across the body and report its discovery, and Errki is spotted in the woods in the vicinity of the property. Inspector Sejer is probably the most reasonable detective I¿ve encountered in my reading of mysteries. He is loathe to jump to conclusions and does not make assumptions based on stereotypes. And he is kind and dedicated¿I think his younger coworker, Detective Skarre sums up his character best when he explains that Sejer, a widower for eleven years, believed that when he said ¿till death do us part¿, he meant his death. Karin Fossum is thoughtful not only in her creation of Inspector Sejer but also in all the other characters in the book. All three ¿misfits¿ are depicted with a gentle touch and with understanding. This book is as much a fight for understanding between the armed and hostage as it is a mystery, as Errki and Morgan try to find shelter on the run.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. This is one of my favorites from detective Sejer series. The dialogues between the characters were super funny. Sometimes I couldn't stop laughing. Interesting plot and misterious characters. I strongly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More in series that this as been translated
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