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Compact, deft Scandinavian crime novel
on 5 July 2004
I'm a big fan of Henning Mankell's Swedish crime novels, but when I'd read them all (or at least all the ones that have been translated) I started to look around for more Scandinavian crime fiction.
I couldn't have moved on to a better substitute for Mankell.
Karin Fossum's style is not dissimilar to Mankell's, and I suspect that if you like one you'll like the other.
There are differences though. Fossum doesn't make the landscape and climate part of the action like Mankell does. Apart from the occasional place name, there's not much to tell you that you're in Norway, though of course the names of the characters are exotic and interesting.
I think Fossum is better at characterization: she deftly brings out all of her characters where Mankell concentrates on his central character almost at the expense of the others. I was particularly impressed by the way subtle, real details bring the characters to life. There is some very clever, but not showy writing in this novel.
You'll probably have to like "police procedurals" to really enjoy this. But it's not dour, not dull. There are moments of real tension and revelation; you'll find you are easily persuaded to turn to the next page and the next chapter.
I look forward to reading more of Karin Fossum's novels.