Tuesday, July 21, 2009

THE WATER'S EDGE - Karin Fossum

The Rises take the same walk every Sunday, but this Sunday is different from any other. This Sunday they encounter a strange man walking away from the woods. He is limping, and when Kristine Ris smiles at him, he reacts with a look of terror. The strange man climbs into his older white car and drives away. But when Kristine and Reinhardt start back from their walk, they discover the half-naked body of a small boy left in the woods. Could the man limping out of the woods be responsible for this or was he just a witness like Kristine and Reinhardt? Kristine is disturbed enough by this gruesome discovery, but when Reinhardt begins taking pictures of the boy with his cell phone while they wait for the police, she's simply mortified. Who is this man she's married to?

Inspectors Konrad Sejer and Jacob Skarre are called in to investigate the death of the boy, but the stakes are raised when another boy goes missing in the midst of the investigation. The key to case has to be the man with the limp in the white car, if only they could locate him.

While this is my first experience with Inspector Konrad Sejer, this is actually Karin Fossum's sixth book in the series. Originally published in Norwegian, it was translated to English by Charlotte Barslund.

Fossum hooks the reader immediately with the discovery of the small boy at the opening of this novel. The tone of the novel is set because there is never anything light or funny about child molestation and murder. The whodunit does not appear to be much of a mystery until Fossum starts throwing in subtle events that make the reader wonder if there is a twist up ahead.

But the greatest strength of this novel comes in the form of its characters. Each character is essential to the book either through his/her role in the plot or through his/her relationship to another character. I couldn't be indifferent to any of the characters; Fossum created them in such a way as to evoke some kind of emotion from me, the reader, whether it be revulsion, pity, empathy or compassion. A true sign of realistic, dimensional characters. And just as Inspector Sejer points out to the press in a briefing, "'Every case is unique,' he said. 'There was only ever one Jonas August,'" so too are the other members of this dynamic cast of characters.

And of course you have to know that I would have a special affinity for Sejer since he brings his dog, Frank Robert, to work with him. But, I also admire this character for his intelligence, his morality, his ethics. He is appalled by the act that has been committed, but he will handle the investigation properly so that the murderer is held accountable:
"Is that what's happened? Sejer thought, I'm hunting a lost soul who has strayed. No, that's not right. I'm hunting a man who puts his own desires before everything else, a man who cannot control himself, a man who will kill to satisfy his urges. When I'm at the police station interrogating him, there will be no room for acceptance. I will be polite and follow procedure, but I will offer him nothing; no mercy, no sympathy."
You will not find car chases or gun fights or fancy martial arts conflicts in this book. This is a chilling story because it is every parent's worst nightmare. And even if you aren't a parent, you can identify similarities in your own communities and make connections to your own lives. That is what makes this story haunt your thoughts long after you've reached the end.

THE WATER'S EDGE (ISBN: 978-0-15-101421-7) is published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and will be available August 4, 2009.


Serena July 21, 2009 at 8:36 AM  

wow, this sounds like an excellent read. You had me hooked from the first lines of this review. Now, to get my hands on a copy!

Corey Wilde July 21, 2009 at 11:26 AM  

I've been hearing a low buzz about Fossum's work for a couple of months. You've confirmed that I need to add her to my ever-growing list.

Kristie July 21, 2009 at 1:53 PM  

This sounds great! I am half Norwegian and went there once while I was still in school with my mom and brother and think I would be interested in reading a book based there. I searched my library's site and they don't have this book catalogued yet, but I did place a hold on one of her other books. I can't wait!

Is this in paperback or hardcover? If it's paperback, maybe I will be able to break my spending ban...

Jen July 21, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

Kristie, it isn't out yet in the U.S. It's pub date is August 4th. That's probably why your library doesn't have any listing for it yet. Another Norwegian author you may want to check into is Jo Nesbo.

An interesting aside, that I didn't mention in the review, is the fact that she won 2008's L.A. Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller category.

le0pard13 July 21, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

This is a chilling story because it is every parent's worst nightmare.

That's unsettling. I recall reading Stephen King's Pet Semetary ages ago. And now that I'm a parent, I know now I'll never re-read it because of that. I don't know, Jen. But, thanks for the review (and the warning).

Jen July 22, 2009 at 6:05 AM  

I can totally understand that, Michael. My mom couldn't read SARAH'S KEY because the little boy in that story was around the same age as my nephew.

Thoughts of Joy July 22, 2009 at 6:11 PM  

I have only read the first one in this series, but really look forward to more. Glad to see that you enjoyed it the sixth!

Arnie Slater August 5, 2009 at 10:08 AM  


I am an American with proud Norwegian roots. I picked up Karin Fossums book "Don't look Back" A few years ago. (DLB is the first American release for Fossum). I have been hooked ever since! She cannot write fast enough for me. I am waiting for my copy of The Waters Edge! You must read Mrs. Fossums other books! They are the best! I also like Norwegian authors- Jo Nesbo, Anne Holt, and K.O.Dahl for Mysteries. I am currently reading Swedish author- Stieg Laarsen's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" I am a Scandinavian Euro-crime junkie!

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP