I chose to read the second Inspector Sejer novel because I wanted to try a new-to-me author of a well-reviewed series, and I’m glad I did despite being burnt out by police procedurals in general in the last several months. The first novel in the series, Eva’s Eye, also published as In the Darkness, was published in 2013 in the US, but I’ve had book 2 waiting on my shelves for awhile so I chose to read it first.
Sejer is a widower still mourning the loss of his wife to cancer, and in this novel he works with Skarre, a young policeman half his age. Their district is large, covering a population of over 100,000 people, while the scene of the crimes at the heart of the novel take place in an incredibly small mountain town.
The subject matter of the book is pretty off-putting: a very young girl is missing in the first chapter of the book but found safe, and in the second chapter of the book a teenage girl is found dead by a mountain lake. Because the crimes took place in such a small community, there’s a bit of a locked-room feel, and there’s a bit of peeling away of people’s facades as Sejer and his colleague Skarre interview lots of residents. The stories Sejer and the rest of the police uncover are quite sad, and they lend emotional depth to the investigation.
Despite the sadness of the story, Sejer himself doesn’t seem overly gloomy, which is appealing in a protagonist. He feels empathy for the people he interviews not only because they were touched by the crimes at the center of the novel but because of their lives together in their small town. I’m glad I have several more novels in the series to get to soon.