Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Water's EdgeThe Water's Edge by Karin Fossum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Norway's Karin Fossum is one of my absolutely favorite crime novelists, author of "Black Seconds", which I consider a masterpiece of the genre. "The Water's Edge" is the weakest of her six novels that I have reviewed here on Goodreads. To be clear, it is still a pretty good book, it just does not quite meet Ms. Fossum's stellar standards.

Kristina and Reinhardt, a married couple, out for a walk in the woods, find the body of a boy, sexually assaulted and murdered. Inspectors Sejer and Skarre arrive and an investigation commences. For the first half the novel alternates between three threads: the procedural following the police's attempts to find the killer, the dynamic of degenerating relationship between Kristina and Reinhardt, who is almost morbidly obsessed with the case and excited to be in the center of investigation, and the narration of the killer. A new thread is added midway through the novel - I have doubts about the structural soundness of the addition.

While the criminal plot is captivating and the characterizations are done well in this procedural, two conversations between principal characters ring false: Sejer's and Skarre's discussion of sexual crimes and then the dialogue between Kristina and Reinhardt about gender differences. Not that the topics are not plausible, it is mostly the way that the words in the conversations are written down that makes me wince. It is like reading the sentence "I possess this feature" instead of "I have it". Maybe it is the translator's fault.

Also, Ms. Fossum, usually a great master of understatement, is too verbose in the novel, almost as if she were writing a paper on crime psychology. On the other hand, I very much like the ending, which is in Ms. Fossum's best style - a bit enigmatic and open to the readers' interpretations.

Almost three stars.

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