Don't Look Back, the first of Norwegian author Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer novels to appear in the U.S., is a realistic police procedural that reminds the reader that identifying a murderer as often as not comes down to luck and sheer chance as it does to good detective work. Fossum sets her story in the kind of small town neighborhood where everyone believes that he knows everything about all of his neighbors. But, of course, that is never the case, and this psychological suspense novel is filled with well-developed characters who are living whole lives that are unsuspected by those living just a few feet from them.
When Sejer and his partner were called to the village to investigate the disappearance of a little girl, he was realistic enough to expect the worst. What he did not expect, however, was that the mystery of what happened to this child would lead him to the body of one of the little girl's teenage neighbors, Annie Holland, a beautiful and well-liked 15-year old athlete admired by everyone who knew her.
The delicate, almost protective, way that Annie's nude body was left at the scene of her murder convinced Sejer that sex had nothing to do with the reason that she was killed. He sensed that her killer was someone who knew her well and, through repeated conversations with the townspeople, he pushed and poked at them in a patient effort to piece together the last few months of Annie's life in a way that would make it easier to identify the person who had wanted her dead. In the process, Sejer hoped that he would either piece together enough of Annie's story to allow him to make an arrest or that the killer would do something foolish because of all the pressure that he was applying to the townspeople. It was only a question of which would happen first.
Don't Look Back offers numerous insights into contemporary Norwegian society and proves again what an excellent writer of psychological suspense Karin Fossum is. Fans of writers like Ruth Rendell and John Harvey would do themselves a favor by adding her Inspector Sejer series to their list of "must reads."
Rated at: 4.0