Mordet på Harriet Krohn by Karin Fossum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I believe there exist authors and readers that are made for each other, almost like love at the first sight. Norway's author Karin Fossum's works always resonate with me. This is my ninth book by this author and, although I rated two of them with only three stars, and am hesitant - because of the subject - to read other two, I rate the remaining seven of Fossum's books with at least four but mostly five stars. I love how she writes about little things in life that lead to bigger and worse things. I love her powers of observation and the depth of knowledge of human psychology.
It would be really inappropriate to call "The Murder of Harriet Krohn" a mystery. We know from the very beginning who the killer is, and we know his motives. We even know why, how, and by whom he will be caught. This is precisely what I love in the novel. Instead of insipid twists and turns of a run-of-the-mill mystery, the plot logically and inexorably moves from the gruesome beginning to the natural end. Toutes proportions gardées the novel reminds me of Dostoyevski's "Crime and Punishment". This may sound like sacrilege, but I prefer Fossum's book as it is not as dated.
Charlo, a widower, and a father of a sixteen-year old girl whom he adores, is a gambler. He owes a lot of money to a local gangster, and decides to steal money, jewelry, and silver from an elderly woman, Harriet Krohn. Alas, he kills her in the process, as she resists the robbery. The first fifty-something pages of the novel are an absolute psychological masterpiece. There are deeply moving scenes further down as well, as Charlo tries to explain away his actions, as he tries to weigh good deeds in his life with a few bad ones (like the murder). But wasn't it accidental? Why did Mrs. Krohn resist? It was really her fault.
There is a heartbreaking thread in the novel about Charlo's daughter, Julie, who eventually loses everybody and everything she loves. There is also a fascinating thread about Charlo's health, and how his stumbling is way more important to him than being a murderer.
"The Murder of Harriet Krohn" is a great novel: one of the wisest, most mature, and sad books I have ever read. It is way more than a mystery or a police procedural. It exposes human frailty, utter stupidity, and the people's inclination to cheat themselves. Read the book not for the mystery, but for truth about our wretched species.
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