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Black Seconds [Mass Market Paperback]

Karin Fossum , Charlotte Barslund
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 6.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 May 2008
Ida, a good-natured, happy girl, is looking forward to her tenth birthday when she gets on her brand new bike and sets off to buy sweets. She should be back within half an hour but she never returns. Her mother, frantic with worry, calls the shop, friends and family but no one has seen her daughter. As the relatives reach breaking point and the media circus begins, Inspector Sejer is calm and reassuring, but inside he is worried: missing children are normally found within forty-eight hours. Ida seems to have vanished without a trace.

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Black Seconds + When The Devil Holds The Candle (Inspector Sejer Mystery)
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099501724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099501725
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 11.2 x 17.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Possibly the most popular foreign crime writer in translation, the Norgwegian Karin Fossum is an intelligent author who delivers more than a smart plot by way of psychological insight and clear-eyed characterisation" (Daily Mail)

"There is no room for debate: the most important female writer of foreign crime fiction at work today is the Norwegian Karin Fossum" (Rough Guide to Crime Fiction)

"Fossum is frequently compared to Ruth Rendell, but Black Seconds is much more reminiscent of the psychological thrillers of Patricia Highsmith. Fossum is a clever writer; this is her most cunning tale yet" (Daily Express)

"A superb writer of psychological suspense" (New York Times)

"Writes like Ruth Rendell with the gloves off" (Kirkus Reviews)

Book Description

A little girl seems to have vanished without trace. Inspector Sejer must find her before it's too late...

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karin Fossum - Black Seconds 15 Aug 2007
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Ida Joner is a sweet girl, adored by her mother Helga. She loves animals, and is looking forward to her tenth birthday. One day she rides out on her yellow bike to buy some sweets. When she fails to return 35 minutes after she should have, Helga starts to worry. She phones around, but there is no word, and eventually she calls the police. Still no news the following day, a local search is organised, with hundreds of local volunteers. However, nothing comes of it. Ida Joner and her yellow bicycle seem to have vanished into thin air.

Fossum seems to write two different kinds of novels: sensitive procedurals focusing on simple, everyday-crimes crimes (such as Don't Look Back and Calling Out For You), and psychological thrillers based on original and twisted conceits (like When the Devil Holds the Candle). Black Seconds is of the former type. It deals with a simple, unflashy crime, one that could (and does) happen anywhere. This sad simplicity adds to the strange power of her novels, with their achingly realistic crimes, and their achingly realistic victims, their relatives and neighbours.

If there is one thing that makes Fossum stand out most it is her compassion, for every character: victim, policeman, even murderer. It is the emotional sensitivity of her prose, the immense power she has of evoking empathy for the sorriest of people. Her victims are painfully normal, as are her killers; those mentally less-well off (a common feature in her novels) are generally gentle and above all noble. She has such a natural style, her emotional frankness and simplicity can sometimes be hard to read. I feel much more tarnished (in a good way!) after reading Fossum's novels than I do those full of spilled guts.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and thought provoking 18 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Henning Mankell introduced me to the wonders of Scandinavian crime writing, and led me to Karin Fossum, who is even better at it than our venerable Swedish friend. She's a little bit different in approach though: Mankell, who we all know, sticks, in his Wallander books at least, to the police procedural style. Perhaps that's his weakness. Fossum takes some elements of the procedural and mixes them with psychological drama.
For comfort she holds on to a common central character or two; Inspector Sejer is the reassurring anchor-man and his junior, Jacob Skarre, the device through which we learn how clever Sejer is. It all works beautifully.
Often in her books (and 'Black Seconds' is no exception), there is an 'oddity', an outcast in society on whom suspicion naturally falls. Perhaps this method of revealing society's simplistic reactions is overused in her novels, but it is effective, and usually quite creepy.
Here, a middle-aged outcast of childlike intellect is involved in the disapppearance of a child. Fossum once again manages the clever trick of fooling us into believing that what seems obvious isn't. Actually it is.
What's really clever is the way the second plot revolves around the first. In fact it's the second plot (about a teenager who crashes his car) is really the most interesting part of the novel. It throws up all kinds of questions about ideal and actual morality. Nothing is clear cut (another theme of Fossum's).
The way these two strands are pulled together is beautifully done in the author's unpretentious but stylish hand. In a way, not much happens, but the way it happens is absolutely compelling. In just a few well-chosen words, Karin Fossum creates a world you care about, people you can see and feel, and an atmosphere you can touch. I don't know anybody who does this kind of thing better.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping story 3 Sep 2007
By Bluebell TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read several of Karen Fossum's detective stories and enjoyed them all. This one is a bit different in that one has a pretty good idea of what happened long before the end of the book, but it's still utterly gripping as the detective pair, Skarre and Seger, dig out the truth. The chapters in which Seger interviews suspects are particularly fine descriptions of the policeman's sensitive use of human psychology to tease out confessions. All the main characters are so well drawn you have a clear picture of them in your mind's eye and can believe that they are real people. The policemen are not caricatures but men with lives and feelings outside their work. The writing is crisp with no redundant verbiage for which, I should think, quite a lot of credit must go to the translator.
The printing and paper are of a high standard for a paperback.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want lots of blood, serial murders, and breathless chases, give this one a miss. If, instead, you want a perfectly-constructed and all too plausible story, beautifully written and translated (from the Norwegian), then this one's for you. It's the deceptively simple story of a missing 9-year old girl, and how Inspector Sejer unravels what happens to her, despite the obstacles placed in the way for their own reasons by some of the characters involved. To tell any more would be to say too much, but think Ruth Rendell at her very best in a story that's a bit like a mixture of her Wexford and non-Wexford titles, and you'll get an idea. I can't think of a better book to demonstrate how a crime story should be constructed: there's not a word out of place, it's exactly as long as it needs to be, and Amazon should allow it to be awarded a 6th star!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant read
Another truly brilliant read from Karin Fossum, I have to give myself a break by NOT reading these -because once I start, I cannot put them down! So many twists and turns. Read more
Published 8 months ago by NurseinYorkshire
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but a little predictable.
I really enjoyed this book, it was a little dry in some areas however this was more than made up for by the great character development. Read more
Published 10 months ago by AprilLudgate
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific psychological police story
Karin Fossum is a brilliant exponent of the psychological police story - up there with the best of them, she really writes great characters, believable plots, hauntingly beautiful... Read more
Published 10 months ago by E M
4.0 out of 5 stars understated drama
Black Seconds is somewhat of a curious read as there was not much mystery to the case, yet it was oddly compelling. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Rob Kitchin
3.0 out of 5 stars More compound sentences in translation please.
Chose three stars because translation sometimes hindered the flow of the narrative. I liked the portrayal of the mothers and their reaction to the very different involvement of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by ms c b griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Seconds
A young girl called Ida disappears. She had gone to a local shop on her distinctive yellow bicycle. It soon becomes clear that there are two main suspects, Tomme, a teenage... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Ragnar
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Karin Fossum
As always really interesting story with wonderful characters and a twist at the end. If you have never read any books by Karin Fossum I suggest you start doing so.
Published 16 months ago by Irma
5.0 out of 5 stars Hours of thought
Another fossum another great read characters are given great depth and story line is compelling great sadness and no real winners
Published 18 months ago by andrew woods
4.0 out of 5 stars Karin Fossum's Black Seconds
Wonderful writer. Have only recently discovered Karin Fossum and am currently reading my fourth Inspector Sejer story in 10 days, enhancing a week 's leave from work. Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2011 by willow
5.0 out of 5 stars death and innocence
Another - for me - Scandanavian author, another excellent book. Before reviewing the book, let's not forget the translator, Charlotte Barslund, who has successfully brought the... Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2010 by Michael Watson
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