KARIN FOSSUM

Norwegian author of crime fiction, often referred to as the “Norwegian queen of crime” and internationally recognized for her novels starring Police Inspector Konrad Sejer.

Biography

Karin Fossum was born in 1954 in Sandefjord on the Norwegian south coast and published some poetry collections before she began writing crime fiction. She also worked in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted with rehabilitation of drug addicts, experiences that she has used in her crime novels. The death of children, mental health issues and disabilities often feature in her stories, where hardly remarkable crimes are made by very ordinary people. Her books are psychologically realistic and the Inspector Sejer series readily incorporate social issues of class inequality, misogyny, immigration, and exploitation. The Scandinavian landscape sets the overall atmosphere and the isolation of its small mountain towns or the suburban outskirts of Oslo form a perfect setting for the intimacy of crime.

Books

The Inspector Konrad Sejer series:

All her novels featuring Inspector Konrad Sejer are translated into English and are best read in the following order:

In the Darkness
(Inspector Sejer book 1)
2012
Also published as Eva´s Eye
Translated by James Anderson
Original title: Evas øye (1995)
A woman walking with her daughter sees the body of a man floating in a river. She tells her child she’s phoning the police – but doesn’t. The man in the river is murdered and there is another murder of a prostitute, two crimes that appear to be linked. Police inspector Konrad Sejer has to search for a possible motive connecting the deaths.


Don´t Look Back
(Inspector Sejer book 2)
2005
Translated by Felicity David
Original title: Se deg ikke tilbake! (1996)
Konrad Sejer and his young sidekick Skarre are called to a small community to find a missing child, but instead the child finds a dead teenager. Two locals walking by an idyllic pond in the woods discover the body of a local teenage girl named Annie. Her murder is as puzzling as it is dreadful and the investigation has to peel away many  layers of distrust and lies in this tiny community where apparently normal family ties hide dark secrets.


He Who Fears the Wolf
(Inspector Sejer book 3)
2003
Translated by Felicity David
Original title: Den som frykter ulven (1997)
A woman is brutally murdered outside her remote cabin in the countryside. Suspicion is immediately directed at a mentally ill man named Errki who has just escaped from an asylum. However, Errki’s doctor refuses to believe that he could have committed such an horrific act – and Konrad Sejer is inclined to believe her…


When the Devil Holds the Candle
(Inspector Sejer book 4)
2004
Translated by Felicity David
Original title: Djevelen holder lyset (1998)
When the theft of a purse from a stroller results in an infant’s death, two teenagers are in trouble. Unaware of the enormity of their crime, they are intent on committing still another. One of them follows an elderly woman into her house, but never reappears. In this psychological mystery it´s clear that appearances aren’t always to be believed, and people are not always what they seem…


Calling Out for You
(Inspector Sejer book 5)
2005
Also published as The Indian Bride
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Original title: Elskede Poona (2000)
A quiet, middle-aged man from a peaceful Norwegian community is going to meet his wife at the airport, but is unexpectedly called to his sister´s bedside at the hospital. The local taxi driver sent instead to meet the bride at the airport returns without her. And an immigrant newly wed bride named Poona instead crosses paths with a killer…


Black Seconds
(Inspector Sejer book 6)
2007
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Original title: Svarte sekunder  (2002)
This story opens with every parent’s worst nightmare: a missing child. Sometime after getting on her bike and cycling to the sweet shop, nine-year-old Ida Joner vanishes. No trace of her is found despite a thorough search by the community. Although a local mentally-challenged mute man is suspected, her cousin Tomme is suspiciously evasive…


The Murder of Harriet Krohn 
(Inspector Sejer book 7)
2014
Translated by James Anderson
Original title: Drapet på Harriet Krohn (2004)
Charles Olav Torp has a debt of 200,000 kronor and a bad relationship with his daughter. He can’t get out of paying that money back, so he schemes to rob an old lady. One simple robbery and he’ll be out of the red he thinks, but he didn´t expect her to put up a fight. Wracked with guilt, Charles attempts to rebuild his life. But the police are catching up with him, and Inspector Konrad Sejer has never lost a case yet… …


The Water’s Edge
(Inspector Sejer book 8)
2009
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Original title: Den som elsker noe annet  (2007)
Reinhardt and Kristine are somewhat disconcerted when they come across a stranger during a routine nature walk, but profoundly disturbed when soon after they find the body of a small half-naked boy. A once peaceful community is deeply shaken and the children lose the sense of complete freedom they had enjoyed. And soon another boy is missing…


Bad Intentions
(Inspector Sejer book 9)
2010
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Original title: Den onde viljen (2008)
Three friends go boating at a remote lake but only two return. After the third’s body is discovered, the remaining two maintain their friend was depressed and possibly suicidal when he went off on his own in the boat. But there are some details of the scenario that don’t make sense…


The Caller
(Inspector Sejer book 10)
2011
Translated by K.E. Semmel
Original title: Varsleren (2009)
A happy couple, having a pleasant meal together, assume their infant daughter is quite safe in her baby buggy parked in the back yard. When they finally think it’s time they brought the child indoors, they are horrified to find her covered in blood. After a frantic race to the hospital they learn it’s not her blood. Someone has played a cruel hoax, the first of many…


The Drowned Boy
(Inspector Sejer book 11)
2015
Translated by Kari Dickson
Original title: Carmen Zita og døden (2013)
When a toddler with Down syndrome drowns in a pond, Konrad Sejer has to determine if it might have been deliberate. His mother’s story doesn’t seem quite right, and while she professes love for her lost child she also talks rather too negatively about her son’s disability. In this book we also get to know a little more about Sejer’s life…


Hell Fire
(Inspector Sejer book 12)
2016
Translated by Kari Dickson
Original title: Helvetesilden (2014)
A mother and child are found dead in an old caravan on a remote farmstead in Norway. A bloody footprint at the scene is one of the only clues. Meanwhile, another mother is struggling with her 20-year-old son, Eddie, who has a personality disorder of some kind. Chief Inspector Sejer is tasked with investigating the murder – and soon receives important information about the two families…


The Whisperer
(Inspector Sejer book 13)
2018
Translated by Kari Dickson
Original title: Hviskeren (2016)
The Whisperer is about a lonely woman who works in a supermarket and whose life has become one long routine. Ride the bus to work, ride it home again, sleep  – and repeat. She feels safe in her routine, until one day she receives a letter with a threatening message scrawled in capital letters…

Standalones:

Broken
2008
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Original title: Brudd (2006)
A writer wakes one night to find a strange man in her bedroom. He is a character she has invented, but not yet used, and so desperate is he to have his story told that he has resorted to breaking into her house.
A superb novel that plays with the boundaries of fact and fiction.


I Can See in the Dark
2013
Translated by James Anderson
Original title: Jeg kan se i mørket (2011)
Riktor doesn´t like the way the policeman comes straight into the house without knocking and without telling him why he’s there, and Riktor doesn’t ask. Because he knows he’s guilty of a terrible crime. But it turns out that the policeman is accusing Riktor of something totally unexpected…