Karin Fossum

I’ve recently read two novels by Karin Fossum, and I’m about to start a third. So I apparently like them well enough…but it’s still hard to summon up a great deal of excitement about this series. Fossum, you see, is called “the Norwegian queen of crime,” and the good news is that her books are very Norwegian. The bad news is that they are very Norwegian. I’ll resist any of the Norwegian jokes that Garrison Keillor tells on himself on “Prairie Home Companion,” but suffice it to say that these novels exude a sense of cold, gloomy days. The sense of place is palpable and convincing.

The detective in these crime novels is something of a Scandinavian Sherlock Holmes, except for being an actual police officer rather than an amateur. “Crime novels” is indeed what they’re called, though some refer to them as mysteries or police procedurals or detective fiction; none of these labels should be considered quite accurate, as the two books I’ve read so far feel more like mainstream novels than genre fiction. The action is fairly slow, and the main themes are character development and the consequences of personal actions. The novels aren’t exactly fun to read to read, being more thought-provoking than entertaining. Hence my hesitations in recommending them. But I’m on to #3 (unfortunately not reading them in order), and I’ll tell you whether I’ve revised my opinions up or down or neither after I finish this one.

Categories: Books