Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Black Seconds - Karin Fossum

Helga Joner's ten-year old daughter disappears on her way to the local shop. Inspector Sejer therefore starts his investigation as a missing person inquiry. As time passes, and Ida remains missing, the chances of finding her alive diminish.  After a while the child's distinctive yellow bike shows up, undamaged. Some time later the body itself is found, badly damaged but not sexually assaulted, and dressed in a brand new nightgown. Bizarrely, she seems to have been frozen.

There are suspects - in Ida's family and in the local community. Ida's cousin Tomme pranged his car the same night Ida disappeared - are the two events connected? And then there's the local eccentric - the grumpy, monosyllabic village idiot Emil Johannes, who rides a three-wheeler motorbike with a trailer that could easily accommodate a child.

Black Seconds won the prestigious Martin Beck Award in 2002 and it is easy to see why. It sits wholly within the Beck tradition - patient, productive police work and understanding of human frailty - rather than the lurid psychopathy of Jo Nesbo. The scenes in which Sejer questions Emil Johannes are beautifully done and utterly riveting. I'm a big fan of Fossum - many of her other novels are reviewed here - and Black Seconds is one of her best.

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