Scandinavian literature is still a mystery to me most of the time. I think I like it, but I can’t quite decide. That area of the world definitely has distinct modes of storytelling. Some of it is dark and heavy, like Russian literature. At other times, it feels closer to an Old English or Saxon way of writing. It’s unsettling and blunt, which makes it the perfect medium for a murder mystery.

Like many modern mysteries, the suspense comes not from finding out whodunit, but rather “willtheygetcaught.” From the outset, the reader knows who committed the crime. And just from the title, it’s clear who the victim will be. What is unraveled here is an understanding of the killer’s mind and motives. As his facade slowly crumbles away for the reader, the picture of a murderer becomes clearer for the authorities.

The style is spare and masterfully translated from the cold and crisp Norwegian by James Anderson:

They’ve arranged to meet at the railway station, at the far end of the long-term parking lot. Charlo’s heart is pounding. He gets out the silverware and the gold watch and places it in a bag. The jewelry is worth very little and no one would give anything for it, so it remains in Julie’s gym bag at the bottom of the chest. He halts in front of the mirror and looks at the face he must now reveal. His nose seems to be sticking out, and his ears are burning. Exposing himself like this is abhorrent, but he has no choice. He forces his face to relax because the muscles are around his eyes and mouth have a tendency to twitch in a creepy, revealing manner. ~Pg. 74

I have not read any of Fossum’s Inspector Sejer novels before, but according to the flap, this is the seventh featuring this particular detective. Strangely, Sejer doesn’t appear until about two-thirds of the way into the story. As a result, the reader along with the murderer starts to wonder if they will get away with it after all.

Many thanks to the folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the review copy.

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (November 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0544273397
ISBN-13: 978-0544273399
Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 7 inches


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