Sunday, October 5, 2014

I Can See in the DarkI Can See in the Dark by Karin Fossum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Norway's Karin Fossum is one of my favorite mystery authors. Her "Black Seconds" and "Indian Bride" are solidly five-star works, some of the best mysteries I have ever read in my life. "I Can See in the Dark" is not Ms. Fossum's best novel, although it is very readable. I do not like the term "page turner" as it implies inferior quality of writing - one just wants to turn the pages to follow the plot rather than savor the writing, but while "I Can See in the Dark" is a page turner, it is - as always with Ms. Fossum's work - beautifully written. The author uses short simple sentences, ably translated from Norwegian by James Anderson.

Riktor works as a nurse caring for elderly people at the Lokka nursing home. He is not a typical nurse, though, and he has dark secrets. He is accused of murder, but there is something deeply perverse about the whole set-up. The plot is really engrossing, but very, very dark. There is a passage, mid-novel, about Riktor's behavior with his patients that made my skin crawl.

Ms. Fossum is younger than me, but still, at 60 she is quite mature. This is a book for old people, for people who understand the vagaries and randomness of life. This is also a painful book about dying. "I often think about the old people in their beds at Lokka. Those cavernous faces, those bony hands always groping for something to hold on to. They, who have seen and understood about life and how it should be lived. I know so much more now, they think; I understand things at last, but it's too late. Now the greenhorns are coming to take over, and they won't listen to us, lying here twittering like birds." Yes, now I understand things, but it is way too late.

A very good mystery, but one that does not transcend the genre.

Three and a half stars.

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