While the latest Inspector Sejer is a serious, rather sad, mystery Fossum’s touch and writing is lighter than many Scandinavian authors. The mystery is not about who did it, as the reader knows by the second chapter. Instead it is about the effect of terrible but non-lethal pranks on the targeted families. With superb characterizations and a twist ending, this will make you want to read all of Fossum’s novels.

An infant is covered with blood while she sleeps. Her parents rush her to the hospital, where they learn the baby is untouched. But nothing in their lives will ever be untouched again. Sejer takes the case very seriously. Then he receives a postcard with a message: “Hell begins now.” A false death notice for an elderly woman is placed in the paper. More pranks spread fear and panic. The reader soon knows who is responsible, but it is hard not to have sympathy for the perp. Events slide out of control and not even Sejer can save everyone. (HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT, Aug., 256 pp., $25.00)
Reviewed by: 
Page Traynor