Author: Karin Fossum (translated from Norwegian by Charlotte Borslund)
Mariner Books, 2009 (originally published in 2002)
My family knows how much I love a good Scandinavian mystery, and Karin Fossum has been on my radar for a while. In fact, I have her book The Indian Bride on my shelf, and will no doubt be reading it soon. I hadn't expected to read Black Seconds before The Indian Bride (since I usually read series books in order), but on my recent trip to El Salvador I found myself desperate for something new to read. I saw that one of my traveling buddies was reading this one, and she generously passed it my way when she was finished (Thanks, Chris!)
From the first few sentences, two things were apparent. 1) It didn't matter that I hadn't read the previous books in the series; and 2) Putting this book down was going to be difficult. It grabbed me and didn't want to let go. And I didn't mind at all.
The plot centers around the disappearance of a pretty young girl and the impact this has on her family and some of the other people in the community. The author's technique of getting into the heads of other characters (not only the main "detective" character) is refreshing. The main detective (Konrad Sejer) doesn't seem as gloomy, depressed, or shell-shocked as many others out there in crime thriller land. Of course, he has his problems, and I'm sure I'll learn more about him when I read the other Konrad Sejer books.
There were plenty of weird characters, though . . . the mother of the disappeared girl was quite a head case, and there's the colorful local weirdo who never talks except to say the word "No" and drives around on a motorized three-wheeler. Born to be wild, yeah.
I can't say much more without giving too much away, but I will say that the way things unravel at the end is downright creepy. If you like mysteries and/or thrillers, you'll probably like this one. It's not a cozy, but it's not gross, either. Just know in advance that you won't be able to put it down, so wait until you have a block of time before you get started.