Just like when we were all awaited reading about Harry Potter's next year at Hogwarts and independent booksellers with BookSense as well as a heck of a lot of others began compiling lists of titles to read "While Waiting for the Next Harry Potter Book...," booksellers and readers have begun giving suggestions for alternative Scandinavian authors to read, as we finish the late Stieg Larsson's "Millenium Trilogy," on "the girl who" was named Lisbeth and totally enthralled readers. I was skeptical, but shouldn't have been, if I had reasoned it out. Swedish and Norwegian crime writers apparently have more in common to offer to fans of Lisbeth and Mikael than Dodie Smith, Eva Ibbotson and Narnia could for young fans of JK Rohlwing's alternative world of wizards and Muggles. Well, I learned something new: Iceland is part of Scandinavia but Denmark is not.
My new find is Karin Fossum who writes of small-village Norway with a stark clarity which I associate with the crisp air of autumn here and what I imagine of the atmosphere of Norway year 'round.
Once a reader is persuaded to begin, he can easily see that Sejer is much more like an ordinary person, not immersed entirely in his personal angst nor in his gruesome yet noble profession, but an honest man with a normally average (dare I say, small-village Norway?) share of life's sad and happy events attempting to continue living a good life and doing a good day's work. Then, the readers can involve themselves with the crime, the victims which include not only the dead but those related to her, and the other characters, be they incidental or pivotal or colorful. Fossum does a great job, drawing us in, with descriptions that are neither too gruesome, too academic, nor too superficial. Her choice of words is economical, but rich. She draws us into Sejer's small-village Norway just as well as Larsson drew us into the various neighborhoods of big-city Stockholm.
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