Thursday 13 June 2013

Don't Look BackDon't Look Back by Karin Fossum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DONT LOOK BACK by Karin Fossum is the second book in the series featuring Inspector Konrad Sejer of Oslo, Norway. Although this happened to be the first book to be translated into English.

The book opens with an ongoing search for a missing 6 year old girl called Ragnhild, which later develops into a murder investigation of a teenage female victim. Whenever I read a Nordic Crime novel, I tend to expect a certain degree of violence and gore. But, surprisingly this book was very low on the count of brutality. Yes, the crime shown was brutal, yes, the motive or the event leading to the crime was brutal and chilling, but the amount of violence used to portray the coldness of the crime was negligible. In a way it was good, as at times, excessive violence bores me. But, creating an atmosphere of fear through words is what suits me the most, because seldom these situations described, becomes boring.

Instead what Fossum used is her very potent mastery over words, and the local ambiance of cold Norway. She is a cunning writer, no doubt. The book as mentioned earlier began with a 6 year old girl getting into a van driven by an unknown man. This man is speaking in riddles, and he is taking the girl to his house. I immediately sat up and felt that something is wrong; I was convinced that this one is going to be a crime related to that child. But, the writer used her mastery to create tension and then twist that tension into the direction of the actual crime i.e. the murder of another teenage woman. For the first few chapters she let the readers believe that the crime was going in a certain direction, only to add the much delicious twist on the way.

Konrad Sejer reminds me of Reg Wexford. He is a family man, a widower actually, spending his days with his dogs. He might not be as enigmatic as Morse or Wallander, but he has a certain calmness which makes him a distinct force in the world of fictional crime fighters. He is a normal policeman, who is effected by his victims, but at the end of the day takes up policing as his profession and not a vocation.

I enjoyed this book, there was no reason to feel otherwise. And I suppose any crime fiction enthusiast would enjoy this book too.

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