Gunder Jomann is a quiet, middle-aged man who lives a peaceful if remarkably unremarkable life in the quiet village of Elvestad, Norway. Many think him "simple", and possibly this is so, but he is still an intelligent, noble and gentle figure, and manages to surprise everyone when they hear he has returned home from India a married man. However, on the same evening his bride Poona is due to arrive at the airport Jomann's sister is the victim of an accident, and he has to send a local taxi-driver to collect her instead. But she is nowhere to be found, and he returns without her. The next day, the small town is rocked with the news of an Indian woman found bludgeoned to death in a nearby field.
Inspector Konrad Sejer is horrified by the brutality of the attack, and vows to find the person responsible among a town where no-one seems to be telling the complete truth, everyone seems to have secrets to keep, and everyone's behaviour is distorted by the fact one of their own may be a guilty of this horrendous crime.
Calling Out For You is a novel with an immense emotional power. It would, I imagine, be almost impossible to read this without total emotional involvement in the characters and what's happening to them. The opening fifty pages, during which lonely Gunder travels to India and finds a wife, only to have her vibrant presence in his life snuffed out on the night she, a stranger in a strange land, arrives to be with him, are at first touching and then ultimately shattering. Fossum's ability to pin-point how completely barbaric the crime, how monstrous, desolate and even beyond words it is, is stunning. This is a hard novel to read for that, for the sense it carries of how horrifically man can act towards himself, but it's nonetheless a rewarding one, and one I would recommend without reservation.
Fossum's talent for creating such moving, psychologically accurate characters - part of the reason the book has such power; her characters are entirely real, entirely convincing - is at its clearest in this book. Too, her ability to conjure the details of their everyday lives into something special and significant, relevant to us all, is striking as well. She doesn't neglect the story, either, the result being that this book has almost everything you could want. The gradual progress of the investigation is fascinating, the characters' reactions to every revelation telling, and there's a slow accruing of detail that makes the final solution inevitable. Not that everything is wrapped up: the final pages introduce an uncomfortable ambiguity to everything that left the book mouldering in my head for a long time.
Calling Out For You is a very special work of crime fiction indeed, and certainly Fossum's best so far. Subtly and sensitively, she draws up an emotional storm that has the power to, finally, knock the reader over. I've not a read a crime novel that's made me cry in a very long time. As I turned to the final page, this one did.