Where does Fossum get her macabre ideas? In his third case, Inspector Konrad Sejer (He Who Fears the Wolf, 2005, etc.) searches his Norwegian town for a missing delinquent who’s being kept right under his nose.
Andreas Winther and Sivert Skorpe, better known as Zipp, have simple tastes. They like to watch Blade Runner, drink and steal from locals. (Andreas also likes Zipp in a special way, but Zipp doesn’t know that.) One night, fresh from a routine purse-snatching that will have devastating consequences, Andreas strolls into the dark house of 50-ish Irma Funder, who sells curtains and bed linens, expecting an easy score. Zipp waits outside, but Andreas doesn’t return, and he doesn’t show up for work the next day, making Zipp uneasy and sending Andreas’s mother into a tizzy. Though they aren’t alarmed that an 18-year-old boy would stay out all night, Sejer and Jacob Skarre investigate. But Fossum, who writes like Ruth Rendell with the gloves off, is less interested in their viewpoint than in the psychodrama unfolding between Andreas and Irma, who’s pushed him down the stairs and paralyzed him, turning him into a helpless audience for whatever she cares to say.
Fossum’s characters are as thin-skinned as anatomy charts. It’s no wonder she knows things about them no one else has ever seen—except for the Devil who holds a candle to them.