cover image The Caller

The Caller

Karin Fossum, trans. from the Norwegian by K.E. Semmel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-547-57752-4

At the outset of Fossum’s unsettling eighth Inspector Sejer mystery to be published in the U.S. (after 2011’s Bad Intentions), Karsten and Lily Sundelin fear the worst after they discover their eight-month-old baby girl covered in blood in their front yard. Fortunately, someone has only doused their child in blood and left her unharmed. Sejer and his junior partner, Jacob Skarre, soon discover more disturbing occurrences, from an elderly woman reading her own obituary in the local paper to a man suffering from ALS who’s approached by a mortuary before he is dead. Meanwhile, the reader is privy to the thoughts of the unhappy 17-year-old perpetrator, Johnny Beskow, who has a grudge against his alcoholic mother and “a distinct talent for mischief.” Fossum manages to create menace without a high body count, and strikes a realistic note by not allowing her investigators to wrap up everything. (Aug.)