Review - THE MURDER OF HARRIET KROHN, Karin Fossum
The preoccupation for Scandinavian crime fiction of many readers is sometimes questioned. One response is to get people to read Karin Fossum's Inspector Konrad Sejer series. Within the one series, Fossum is able to shift the perspective, analyse the reasons why, explore the outcomes and long-term effects of crime, and play with accepted perceptions of clear cut resolutions. In THE MURDER OF HARRIET KROHN, whilst still part of the Sejer series, she's tipped the perspective completely - this is not a whodunnit, or even necessarily a whydunnit, but a how do you live with what you've just done.
There's absolutely no doubt from the opening set up of this book who Charlo Torp is, what a self-inflicted mess he's made of his life, and what his solution to the problem is. It's quite a chilling portrayal. The matter-of-fact way in which Torp sets out to murder Harriet Krohn and his initial reactions post the crime.
It would be an easy thing to have him remain ambivalent, self-justifying. Comfortable that his decision is what was required to sort out his own life and his relationship with his daughter. Certainly post his crime, and as a result of the money and possessions he steals, his life takes a turn for the better. He's able to reconnect with his daughter, he can provide her with the one thing she longs for more than anything else. But somewhere in the middle of all that happy ever after there's something more than just the pressure he's feeling from Inspector Sejer's investigation.
The investigation does take a back seat in this book, but fans of crime fiction that's all about the "chase" would be doing themselves a disservice by missing THE MURDER HARRIET KROHN. This is a carefully laid out, conservatively presented, seeringly understated, big dose of what goes around, comes around. The frightening thing is how blithely ignorant Torp is of what's happening, how his choices impact other people, and what he could have done differently. Until it's way too late.
Charlo Torp has problems. He's grieving for his late wife, he's lost his job, and gambling debts have alienated him from his teenage daughter. Desperate, his solution is to rob an elderly woman of her money and silverware. But Harriet Krohn fights back, and Charlo loses control.
Wracked with guilt, Charlo attempts to rebuild his life. But the police are catching up with him, and Inspector Konrad Sejer has never lost a case yet.