30 November 2006

Norwegian mystery

Dan Conrad asked, since he knows I read mystery novels, if I'd read anything by Karin Fossum. No, I hadn't. As a matter of fact, I'd never heard of her.

Fossum is a Norwegian author whose first mystery, Se Deg ikke Tilbake!, was translated into English as Don't Look Back in 2002. According to an article at Wikipedia, she's known in Norway as the "Norwegian queen of crime."

Well, Northfield is one of the centers of Norwegian-American culture in the U.S. A student can earn an undergraduate degree in Norwegian, at St. Olaf College right here in Northfield. So, when I checked the Northfield Library, I almost expected to find copies of Fossum's books in Norwegian and English. Not so.

Neither the public library, the St. Olaf library, nor Carleton College's library had a copy of any of her books! The Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) Interlibrary Loan Service found a copy for me in The Blooming Prairie, Minnesota library. I'm glad they did.

Fossum creates a good plot and tells a good story in Don't Look Back. The story centers on Inspector Konrad Sejer and his young assistant. Just don't expect much action. Most of the book is told from Sejer's point of view as he asks questions and puzzles over the answers he collects. The story and the way it played out reminded me very much of the British mysteries on Masterpiece Theater's Mystery or of the unfolding stories on one of the CSI programs. (It was made into a mini-series for Nowegian television in 1999.) What Sejer learns helps him discard misleading ideas and directs him to the bad guy. Along the way there are glimpses of the investigating characters and village life in Norway. (I could have done with more of both.)

I liked this one. I'll go asking for others (there are two other Fossum mysteries in the SELCO system) when I return Don't Look Back.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I noted with interest your comment "Just don't expect much action." I had a similar reaction to Fossum's novel He Who Fears the Wolf, which I've just finished reading. I was afraid to say so, though, lest anyone think I was criticizing the novel. In fact, it's a stunning book, perhaps the more so because of the emphasis on what the characters think rather than what they do.

I'm in the mood to tell the world about the book, so drop in and read the comments I've left on my blog at http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/Karin%20Fossum Thanks!

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"