BLACK SECONDS
Karin Fossum

 


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Harvill Secker, Sep 2007
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith

Helga Joner has often thought that her nine year old daughter Ida is too good to be true, too good to last. The disappearance of a child is every parent's worst nightmare. When Ida fails to arrive home from the shop, Helga feels she had been rehearsing the moment for years. First Helga and her sister Ruth scour the streets where they might find Ida, without success, and then they ring the police. Helga feels that somehow she has tempted fate, setting off an inevitable chain of events.

When Inspector Konrad Sejer arrives at her house, Helga feels instinctively that he will find Ida. As time passes Sejer becomes concerned that no trace has been found of Ida or the bright yellow bicycle she rode to the shop. One hundred and fifty volunteers search for Ida without success. Eight days later there are still no clues, the search is to be scaled down, and a chance comment by Helga to Sejer gives them something new to work on.

The careful reader will pick up the clues laid by Fossum early in the book, and probably feel at the book's end that he/she has always known where it was headed. But that won't diminish your enjoyment of this novel. The path is rich with scenes, characters, and explorations of how people think, and why they make the choices they do. Even so, nothing is certain, the characters are as large as life, and the scenarios so believable.

This is the fifth title in author Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer series. What a pity it has taken five years for an English translation of this masterpiece by the Norwegian "Queen of Crime" to become available. If you've never read anything by Karin Fossum, after BLACK SECONDS you'll want to start the series at beginning, enjoying the connections between her novels, the plots she creates, and the development of the character of Konrad Sejer. Let's hope the next two novels in the series, already published in Norwegian, become more quickly available.

Karin Fossum lives in Oslo, and, in her early fifties, is a relatively young writer. Her successful Inspector Konrad Sejer series has been translated into over 16 languages. She won the Nordic Glass Key award in 1997 for DON'T LOOK BACK, and in 2005 CALLING OUT FOR YOU was shortlisted for a CWA Gold Dagger.

Oct 2007 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem

 

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