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Black Seconds (Inspector Sejer Mysteries) Hardcover – June 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Sejer Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151015279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151015276
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,064,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gumshoe Award–winner Fossum (When the Devil Holds the Candle) once again wraps a blanket of methodical police work and infectious psychological tension around a relatively quiet crime in her fifth Inspector Sejer mystery to be made available in the U.S. When nine-year-old Ida Joner takes off for town (never named) on her new bike one afternoon and is never seen again, suspicion falls on Emil Johannes Mork, a silent, simple man. Emil, however, doesn't appear to have the heart of a killer. The narrative shifts smoothly among those affected by the tragedy: Emil's beleaguered mother, a good woman with little life of her own; a male cousin of the missing girl who may suffer some secret guilt; and, of course, Insp. Konrad Sejer and his younger colleague, Jacob Skarre. Sejer is a beautifully created character, a thoughtful, lonely man with great empathy. As he investigates Ida's disappearance, it's not so much the facts of the case as the impact of it on the people who surrounded the girl that fuel the story. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Inspector Sejer and his innocent-looking assistant, Jacob Skarre, are back (The Indian Bride, 2007) in another dark, intense, and impossible-to-put-down investigation. Nine-year-old Ida has gone missing, and Sejer and Skarre head up the hunt, even as everyone, including Sejer and his own mother, suspects a local man, Emil, who never speaks. Details of Sejer’s investigation are interspersed with scenes from the lives of Emil and of Ida’s grieving family. Fossum follows her successful formula, providing the reader with insight into the victim’s family as well as the suspected and actual criminals, making the story as much about understanding the various characters as about the investigation. Yet this time, the story lacks some of the punch of her previous novels; the identity of the real killer is so clear early on that having Sejer overlook it comes across as an uncharacteristic mistake. At the same time, Sejer’s interrogation of the mute Emil is one of the most superb scenes in crime fiction. Even at less than her best, Fossum’s work is still outstanding. Essential reading for fans of Scandinavian crime fiction. --Jessica Moyer

More 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 a small town in southeastern Norway.

Customer Reviews

Read one of her books and you immediately want to start another.
Stephen McHenry
In a way, not much happens, but the way it happens is absolutely compelling.
Androo
Like the first, this was a gripping story with well developed characters.
Judith P. Clarke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Androo on August 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Henning Mankell introduced me to the wonders of Scandinavian crime writing, and led me to Karin Fossum, who is even better at it than our venerable Swedish friend. She's a little bit different in approach though: Mankell, who we all know, sticks, in his Wallander books at least, to the police procedural style. Perhaps that's his weakness. Fossum takes some elements of the procedural and mixes them with psychological drama.
For comfort she holds on to a common central character or two; Inspector Sejer is the reassurring anchor-man and his junior, Jacob Skarre, the device through which we learn how clever Sejer is. It all works beautifully.
Often in her books (and 'Black Seconds' is no exception), there is an 'oddity', an outcast in society on whom suspicion naturally falls. Perhaps this method of revealing society's simplistic reactions is overused in her novels, but it is effective, and usually quite creepy.
Here, a middle-aged outcast of childlike intellect is involved in the disapppearance of a child. Fossum once again manages the clever trick of fooling us into believing that what seems obvious isn't. Actually it is.
What's really clever is the way the second plot revolves around the first. In fact it's the second plot (about a teenager who crashes his car) is really the most interesting part of the novel. It throws up all kinds of questions about ideal and actual morality. Nothing is clear cut (another theme of Fossum's).
The way these two strands are pulled together is beautifully done in the author's unpretentious but stylish hand. In a way, not much happens, but the way it happens is absolutely compelling. In just a few well-chosen words, Karin Fossum creates a world you care about, people you can see and feel, and an atmosphere you can touch. I don't know anybody who does this kind of thing better.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Stephen McHenry on June 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Characters that are real, not forced or overdrawn. Plot development that is believable and deceiving, with a style that smoothly involves the reader mentally, laying clues that may be clues or not, always with unexpected plot finishes that are satisfying. Read one of her books and you immediately want to start another. A detective mystery writer of the highest order.
If you haven't read any Fossum I would recommend starting with The Indian Bride. The British TimesOnline named her one of the 50 greatest crime writers. If you like anything in this genre you will love this author.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Big Al on April 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been reading Scandinavian and Northern mysteries for several years now: Mankell first, then Indridason (Icelandic), followed by a flood: Larsson, of course, Nesbo (currently my favorite), Nesser, and many others, including Fossum. Though I like Fossum's Inspector Sejer series, I find that she recycles plots - especially one involving abducted or missing children - and themes and stays inside her 250-300 page formula. That was no problem with her earlier books, but this time I wanted more. Police procedurals can be programmatic, that's the nature of the beast, but I've noticed that Mankell, Nesbo, Rankin, Burke (as in James Lee) and others learn their craft and then stretch themselves. Even Mo Hayder, an English writer whom I've just discovered, is much better in Gone, her most recent, also about an abduction of children, than in her earlier books. I can recommend Black Seconds without blinking to readers, both those of you who know her work and those of you who don't. (It's better, of course, to start with the first translation and work your way towards this one if you don't know Inspector Sejer and his partner Skarre.) You'll guess who did it too quickly, perhaps, since it's as much a psychological mystery as a straight who done it, and you'll find the cast of characters suitably complicated and bewildered rather than evil, but things get wrapped up too quickly. I'd like to see Fossum take a few risks in her next book in the series, maybe give us a big, fat read where she explores the world she's created and forces Sejer out of his comfort zone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Milashka on January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
Many other reviewers write that there is strong character development yet very little action. This may be a turn-off to someone who is looking for a fast-paces action-filled crime novel and I can only hope that these people will give one of Fossum's books a try - because they are anything but pretty yet slow novels. Fossum has a way to pull one into the story from the very first pages and I find it impossible to put her books down.

My hunch as to what had happened to the missing girl Ida proved to be right, it's kind of easy to guess especially if you are familiar with her books. One might think this would spoil the read but it did not for me. First off, she throws out so many obvious clues in all directions, that even the reader with a hunch is left guessing, and while the plot is not too complex, one just wants to knows how it all ties together in the end, and there are enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. Character development is strong which is amazing given the few strokes Fossum uses to sketch out the different personalities, and she does so with tenderness and compassion. Any "oddball" character (Erkki the schizophrenic in "He Who Fears The Wolf" or the autistic Emil in "Black Seconds") are portrayed in a way that makes them very endearing and I always end up caring deeply for them. Throughout the novel, she gets in the heads of the most tormented characters and I always enjoy the descriptions of how they perceive things and how they fight their demons. The writing itself is exquisite and highly enjoyable.
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