THE CALLER - Karin Fossum
One of the most exciting things about a new book from Karin Fossum is exactly where she's going to take the reader this time. The scenarios, the crimes, the individuals that Fossum incorporates in her books are always very thought provoking, and THE CALLER was certainly no different.
From the moment that a young child is found in her pram, in the backyard of her parent's home, bathed in blood; through the mysterious delivery of a message to Inspector Sejer's door; into the story of Johnny and his drunken, irresponsible mother and the touching relationship he has with his grandfather; there's something very very different going on in this book. THE CALLER is very much about consequences. The acts of one irresponsible, foolish prankster who continues to cause havoc with practical jokes that annoy, frighten and discomfort. Even though the nature of the crime being committed as part of these jokes is sometimes obvious, sometimes a little obscure, Inspector Sejer does his best to find the perpetrator as the level of concern grows. The problem is that the perpetrator is clever, and very cool and collected, and you just know the outcomes are going to get worse.
THE CALLER takes the reader into the world of both victims and perpetrators - an unusual position in crime fiction where the victim is frequently necessarily silent. Whilst this provides a different perspective it is, as usual, Fossum's way of lighting the dark recesses of human behaviour that stand out in this book. Although there's nothing judgemental about the way that she does this - as in other books, it's a matter of the author drawing the picture, explaining the acts and describing the consequences, leaving the question of guilt or innocence, inexcusable acts and mitigating circumstances open to the reader to consider.
All of this is delivered in a simple, lyrical, extremely readable manner. THE CALLER is really another excellent entry in the ongoing series based around Inspector Sejer. The books, however, could easily be read as standalones or out of series order if needs must. But reading them all is no trial whatsoever.
One mild summer evening Lily and her husband are enjoying a meal while their baby daughter sleeps peacefully in her pram beneath a maple tree. But when Lily steps outside she is paralysed with terror. The child is bathed in blood.
Inspector Sejer is called to the hospital to meet the family. Mercifully, the baby is unharmed, but her parents are deeply shaken, and Sejer spends the evening trying to comprehend why anyone would carry out such a sinister prank. Then, just before midnight, somebody rings his doorbell.
The corridor is empty, but the caller has left a small grey envelope on the mat. From his living room window, the inspector watches a figure slip across the car park and disappear into the darkness. Inside the envelope Sejer finds a postcard bearing a short message: Hell begins now.