When I was babbling on about all of the Scandinavian mysteries I've been reading lately, Melanie, over at Indextrious Reader, tweeted about her favourite, Karin Fossum. So I scanned my shelves and happily discovered I had an Inspector Sejer mystery, Calling Out For You! at the ready. I might as well call this my Mystery Christmas for all novels in this genre I've been reading, and I'm pleased that I can cross Norway off my Around the World in 52 Books challenge with Fossum as well, and the translation by Charlotte Barslund is one of the better that I've read -- far less clunky than all of The Girl With novels and, on the whole, Fossum's a much more skillful novelist than Camilla Lackberg.
Calling Out For You! (the exclamation point seems a bit, well, tedious) finds Inspector Sejer solving a heinous crime involving the brutal murder of an Indian woman, the newlywed wife of a middle-aged farm equipment salesmen who was truly looking forward to welcoming his wife to his country, his home. Gunder Jomann, quiet, reserved, lonely, takes the biggest risk of his entire life and simply decides to go to India. Upon his return, the very day his new wife Poona was set to arrive, his only sister ends up in a terrible car accident and he can't collect her from the airport. Tragedy ensues -- Poona doesn't arrive. Instead, she's found bludgeoned to death in a field outside of town.
Fossum's careful not to lead you entirely in the right or wrong direction. There's a mystery to the mystery -- who actually killed Poona and why -- that's inferred but not entirely delineated by the end of the novel. It's a character-driven book, you feel emotionally connected to the Gunder, the distraught, decent man who ultimately suffers unspeakable tragedy. And the detective work is straightforward, simple, to the point. There isn't the driving plot that you'd find in the The Girl With books, but that's okay, there's a decency to Fossum's characters that's very real. Setting doesn't play as an important part in this book the other mysteries I've read by authors from this part of the world (that was the only thing I truly enjoyed about The Ice Princess). But you get the small-town, everyone-knows-everyone, feeling throughout the novel, which always contributes to the shocking nature of the crime.
I flew through this novel, primarily because I truly, honestly wanted to know who did it -- and it was VERY hard not to cheat. Ever since I was a little girl, I've read the last page of the book sometimes even before the first and it's an especially hard habit to break with mysteries. I don't want to spoil it but then I absolutely just have to know. In this case, I managed to be patient, but mainly because it was such an easy read, and didn't take too long to get to the end. Any longer and I wouldn't have been able to stand it.
READING CHALLENGES: Around the World in 52 Books and The Off The Shelf Challenge. Two birds with one book, yet again.
WHAT'S UP NEXT: I can't decide: AS Byatt or Dennis Lehane. I suppose it'll be up to what concentration levels I can manage this evening upon retiring for the long, long night as the RRBB eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps.