cover image The Drowned Boy

The Drowned Boy

Karin Fossum, trans. from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-544-48396-5

The drowning of 16-month-old Tommy Brandt sets the mournful tone for Fossum’s powerful and disturbing 11th Insp. Konrad Sejer mystery (after The Caller). Tommy’s hysterical mother, Carmen Zita, insists that the toddler wandered away from her on a hot day after she suffered an epileptic seizure; she later found his body in a pond near the house that she shares with the child’s reticent father, Nicolai. Sejer assumes at first that the drowning is just a tragic accident, but the mother’s odd demeanor—she’s so eager to move on—makes him suspect foul play. The subsequent autopsy proves that Tommy, who had Down syndrome but was otherwise healthy and happy, was indeed murdered. Fossum explores the aftershocks of the boy’s death for Carmen and Nicolai in a riveting tale that’s more psychological study than police procedural. (Aug.)