Inspector Konrad Sejer confronts yet another criminal who preys on young children.
Kristine and Reinhardt Ris are out for a walk in Linde Forest, taking their weekly break from their flatlining marriage, when they see first a man who looks like Hans Christian Andersen getting into a white sedan, then the body of Jonas August Løwe, who would shortly have turned eight. Sejer and his assistant, Jacob Skarre, muster every officer in their Norwegian force to make inquiries, but the case languishes even though they’ve managed to collect DNA evidence they can use if they ever have a suspect. Jonas August’s mother Elfrid descends into a pool of bottomless grief; Reinhardt Ris develops an unhealthy obsession with the victim’s life and death; and soon enough word comes that another boy has gone missing. Edwin Åsalid, already obese at ten, is no one’s idea of a poster child. But his doting mother Tulla, already torn by her futile struggles to control his weight, is no less distraught than Elfrid Løwe, who, phoning her in sympathy, is rebuffed by Tulla, who’s frantic to believe the two women have nothing in common because Edwin’s still alive. The chance spotting of a man who looks like Hans Christian Andersen provides a crucial break in the case but doesn’t prepare for the real heartbreak around the corner.
You’ve read this story dozens of times, but Fossum (Black Seconds, 2008, etc.) introduces you to characters you’ve never met before.