Norway, review, Translated

He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum

he who fears the wolfEveryone just read Karin Fossum already.

It took me until book 3 in the Inspector Sejer series by Karin Fossum to be a convert, but now I am. As the book started in the head of a schizophrenic young man having horrifying visions, I wasn’t sure what I was in for. Thankfully it’s not gruesome book, but it is one that hit me.

The story is dominated by Errki, the schizophrenic young man from the first chapter and Morgan, the bank robber who takes him hostage. Sejer is tied to the bank robbery investigation because he was in the bank right before it happened, but his work is dominated by the murder investigation into an older woman living in a remote mountain hut who is found murdered by a young juvenile delinquent named Kannick who found her while escaping to practice archery, his obsession.

He Who Fears the Wolf is kind of an atypical crime novel in that the police procedural is not so dominant. In fact, I may know more about how tracking dogs work than how the police work after reading this book. The story takes place over a day, and most of the time is spent with the bank robber, his hostage, and the young man who discovered the murder victim. It reminds me a bit of a Laura Lippman books that way, but in Fossum’s case, there’s even less a police presence.

This book sticks with me. Fossum humanizes everyone in this story, which is remarkable, especially given the relatively short length of the book. Fossum is also interested in bigger issues, like mental illness and crime, and while she addresses them in speeches by Errki’s psychiatrist Dr. Struel, it felt just a bit on the nose.  How the crimes and their aftermaths unfolded felt overwhelmingly sad to me. And Sejer’s grief about his wife hit me as well.

He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum, translated by Felicity David

Originally published as Den som Frykter ulven

Harvest/Harcourt, 2006

I bought my copy of the book.

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7 thoughts on “He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Rebecca. Karin Fossum is incredibly talented, and this novel is a great example of her work. I like the way Sejer handles this case, too, when he finds out the truth about the murder. It shows some character depth, I think.

  2. Sejer is not a showy kind of detective, and we never hear all too much about his problems, issues, lifestyle, musical tastes and so on. But he is sensitive, a worrier and stolidly but patiently gets the job done. Karin Fossum always makes me think, which doesn’t always happen with crime fiction.

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