From Publishers Weekly
Skillful characterization and revealing detail lift Fossum's third mystery to be published in the U.S. featuring thoughtful, intelligent Insp. Konrad Sejer (after 2005's He Who Fears the Wolf). Handsome Andreas Winther, a self-absorbed, dangerously restless 18-year-old, manages to draw both sympathy and disgust from the reader. He roams the streets of an unnamed provincial Norwegian town in the evenings, accompanied by his socially inept friend, Sivert "Zipp" Skorpe, and fueled by the enormity of a secret he keeps. One evening, after mugging a young mother, Andreas decides to break into an old woman's house to rob her. His intended victim, Irma Funder, has a complicated health situation and a more complicated psyche. In defending herself, Irma pushes Andreas down the cellar stairs, where he lands unnaturally twisted, unable to move but alive. What develops between the immobile boy and the reclusive woman is a bizarre, excruciating, curiously tender relationship that serves as a pathetic and poignant balance to the hunt for Andreas conducted by Sejer and his police colleague, Jacob Skarre. (July)
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Fossum's Konrad Sejer procedurals, set in Oslo, are among the many Scandinavian mysteries that have followed Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series to the U.S. Her first novel to appear here, Don't Look Back (2004), was very much in the world-weary Wallander mold, with Sejer investigating a 15-year-old girl's murder and finding multiple layers of ambiguity. Although Sejer is present again this time, the story is much less like a contemporary European procedural and more like a Ruth Rendell psychological thriller. As Sejer and his colleague Jacob Skarre investigate a mugging and the disappearance of a delinquent, the reader sees what the coppers don't, following the tragic events in the life of the delinquent and the very disturbed elderly woman he encounters. At times this story is almost unendurably painful, as our sense of the inevitable clashes with our uncertainty about the outcome. All of the characters are victims of a kind, and all are trapped in one way or another. We feel equally trapped, by our proximity to so many lives gone wrong, and by our inability to close the book. Bill Ott
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