Sunday, March 2, 2014

In the DarknessIn the Darkness by Karin Fossum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Karin Fossum's "In the Darkness" is her first book in the Sejer series, written almost 20 years ago. Sejer has to solve two murders that seem to be somehow connected, and Eva Marie Magnus, the central character of the novel, is somehow connected to both cases. Sejer has to figure out what the connections are.

I did not like the first half of the book too much, although Karin Fossum is one of my absolutely favorite authors and I rate her "Black Seconds" and "The Indian Bride" as masterpieces of the psychological mystery genre (I am working on the reviews of these two books; they deserve a thorough re-read). The writing seemed tentative and unfocused as if Ms. Fossum could not decide on whom to make main characters of the plot. In comparison to later works, the book seemed to be a bit overwrought; there was no feeling of the economical, almost minimalistic style so characteristic for Ms. Fossum's newer prose. It might be a case of hindsight, but to me it was clear that "In the Darkness" was not yet a mature novel.

However, I found the second half of the novel much better. The plot became very interesting, and even the writing seemed to improve to the point that I could follow and understand the motives of Eva Magnus' and others' actions. The threads of the plot were all nicely tied together in the end, and the ending felt powerful.

"In the Darkness" is a good book. It is not on the level of Ms. Fossum's later work; the mystery component is stronger than the psychology component, and the plot is quite complex (which many readers will like). Still, it is a solid psychological mystery on its own. It nicely illustrates the early stages of development of the author's voice and style.

To me, this is clearly a three-and-a-half stars book. Since the halves are not allowed, I am tossing a coin:

Three stars.

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