The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IsBN 978-0-15-101421-7)
A young married couple are out in a secluded woods, on the edge of a lake, for their routine Sunday afternoon walk. As they are leaving the area where they have parked their car, they pass a rather suspicious looking man but don't think a great deal of it. That is until they find the dead body of a missing eight year boy, carefully placed by a tree, naked from the waist down. A horrible crime, made all the more awful for the wife of the couple when, as they wait for the police to arrive, her husband starts taking pictures of the boy with his cell phone camera. The cracks that have started to form in their marriage begin to widen at a very fast pace from that moment.
Inspector Konrad Sejer and his partner, Jacob Skarre, arrive to begin the investigation, which takes on an even more desperate tone when another young boy disappears and they fear a serial killer may be lurking in their seemingly peaceful, bucolic Norwegian community. The surface may be very calm, very polite, but there is a great deal of ugliness lurking just below the surface and we are privy to a view of it as the investigation continues. We see some of the turmoil of the Ris's marriage, the couple that found the body. We see the boy's mother being torn apart by the horrible death of her sweet son, and watch as another mother faces the fact of her missing son in a very different way. We see how the sins of the parents may one day visit their children. We listen as the policemen, perhaps to a degree that might be a bit annoying, wax philosophically about murder and crime and evil...and then we even see how pitiful that evil is as we explore the very thoughts of the murderer himself. Ms. Fossum, who is often referred to as Norway's "Queen of Crime", treats us to a healthy dose of clues, a few red herrings and a truly surprising twist at the end. All in all, the result is a very good, if not perfect book, a quite entertaining psychological mystery. And she does it all in a very sharp, clean, tightly written book. It is a book that was a pleasure to read, in contract to one too many books I have stumbled across recently that could have benefited from a good deal of editing. There are few wasted words in Fossum's books I think...and that can be a fine thing.
This is the first of Fossum's books that I have read, even if it is one of six of the Inspector Sejer mysteries that have been translated into English. Now I suspect that I will be forced to go back to the beginning of this series and explore the rest. I also suspect it will be an entertaining task, and I look forward to getting to know the good Inspector Sejer better.