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Wednesday 9 December 2015

‘The Murder of Harriet Krohn’ by Karin Fossum

Translated by James Anderson
Published by Mariner,
3 November  2015.
ISBN: 978-0-544-57019-1 (PB)

This newest book by the author of the lauded Inspector Sejer series is presented from the point of view of Charles Olav (“Charlo”) Torp, a widower just over 50, unemployed for the past two years after he was found to have pilfered a relatively small amount of money, following the discovery of which he was fired on the spot.  An inveterate gambler, and in serious debt, he is terrified by the thought of what the unsavory people from whom he borrowed the money have in mind for him as his debt grows ever larger.  And worst of all, his greatest humiliation comes from the fact that money he had promised to his 16-year-old daughter has been gambled away, along with everything else.  He has been completely estranged from her ever since.

He comes to the conclusion, out of utter despair, that he must steal a valuable antique silver collection owned by a wealthy woman in her late seventies so he can pay off his debts and start a new life, and familiarizes himself with her habits and the area where she lives.  The reader sees all of this from Charlo’s point of view, the events leading up to the planned burglary, and the crime itself which, as the title intimates, results in the woman’s death when Carlo becomes violent after his victim does not simply succumb and give him her money and valuables.

The question for the reader becomes:  Do I want to go inside the mind of a murderer?  Surprisingly, I found myself sympathizing with him, despite the brutality of the crime, to the extent that when Charlo things that “perhaps he’ll get away with it.  Some people do escape,” this reader couldn’t help but think, “maybe he will,” and wants him to do so.

The author’s series protagonist, Inspector Sejer, makes a critical appearance relatively late in the novel, and what ensues is a battle of wills as much as anything else.  There is nothing that Charlo will not do to try to salvage his new life and his re-established relationship with his daughter, but who will prevail?  This is a very different kind of book, from this author and to this reader, but I do not hesitate to recommend it.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit

Karin Mathisen was born on 6 November 1954 in Sandefjord in Vestfold county, Norway. She currently lives near Oslo. Fossum debuted as a poet with Kanskje i morgen, her first collection published in 1974 when she was just 20. It won Tarjei Vesaas' debutantpris. For a time she worked in hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation of drug addicts. She is the author of the internationally successful Inspector Konrad Sejer series of crime novels, which have been translated into 25 languages and honoured with several awards. She won the Glass Key award for her novel Don't Look Back, which also won the Riverton Prize.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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