Fossum, Karin. Don’t Look Back.

Orlando: Harcourt, 2002.

I have found that mystery novels written by Scandinavian authors usually have a quite different feel from than those written originally in English, and in a way that I find appealing.

They tend to be more somber and slow-paced, the characters have deep resevoirs of feelings, and the events of the plot have a great many more facets than in most American or English mysteries. This is the first of Fossum’s novels featuring Detective Konrad Sejer, and it’s a good one. Annie Holland, age fifteen, is tall, attractive, mature, reserved, almost excessively muscular and athletic. Everyone in her small village in the coastal mountains likes and respects her. She seems to have no enemies — though she does have secrets. She has babysat for every small child in the neighborhood and is very good at it. She has an off-again-on-again boyfriend three years older than her but whom she dominates (and who allows her to). And then she turns up dead beside a small pond in the woods, naked but apparently not sexually assaulted. She seems to have drowned and the body carefully, almost nicely, arranged. And Sejer and his young assistant, Officer Skarre, not only cannot figure out who, among the limited pool of possible suspects, killed her, they can’t come up with even a plausible motive. The action is quite straightforward as we follow the two cops puzzling through their investigation, their interviews with family members and friends, and their uncovering of the community’s personal secrets. And while we gradually learn something about their own backgrounds, the story is about much more than merely solving the mystery of the murder. It’s an above-average first novel and I shall definitely be hunting up the next one in the series.

Published in: on 1 January 2012 at 6:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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