Professor Andersen’s Night is an unsettling yet highly entertaining novel of apathy, rebellion and morality. In flinty prose, Solstad presents an uncomfortable question: would we, like his cerebral protagonist, do nothing?
While Professor Andersen is drinking his cognac and letting the “Christmas spirit fill my mind”, he peeks out his window and sees a woman being strangled. He hides behind the curtains and eventually picks up the telephone to call the police but he changes his mind. He thinks: what’s done is done, the woman is probably dead anyway:
“I can’t tell them about this. The only outcome would be the murderer’s arrest.” And the murderer might well be caught, but not on account of him, Professor Andersen, intervening and notifying them that the man had committed a murder. The idea was distasteful to him.
According to the blurb of Professor Andersen’s Night, Professor Andersen runs into the murderer at a sushi bar several days later. Sadly, I didn’t make it that far into the story. Red flags went up immediately when I found myself setting this book aside after reading the first two pages. This is a book about a man and his conscience. He doesn’t phone the police but continues to rationalize his actions. The following day he attends a dinner party and plans to share the night’s events with his friend. He keeps going back and forth in his decision to say to his host/friend that he witnessed a murder and didn’t report it to the police. This is where my interest started to wan. I stopped reading at page 18 because I got bored with reading stuff like this:
The Caller (Inspecter Sejer 8), written by Karin Fossum and translated from the Norwegian by K.E. Semmel. This is my second book by this author, her latest and the eighth book in the Inspector Konrad Sejer series, that’s only out in the UK as I write this. Karin Fossum is the master at creating quiet moments that subsequently build up in intensity and suspense. That’s her trademark. Another strength is her recreating the daily minutiae of regular, everyday people whose lives are suddenly changed as a result of a crime. For her latest, we watch as the community reacts/responds when someone carries out cruel jokes on random strangers. In her usual style, the author peers closely at how these crimes affect each victim’s life and that of the intrusive offender while at the same time trying to solve the case.
The story begins with a sinister feeling of sorts, in third person narrative, with a happily married couple enjoying their dinner together while their infant daughter sleeps soundly and quietly in the garden. Out of the shadows comes a stranger, who quietly sneaks up to the pram, while the parents are oblivious to the danger. If this were a movie, you all would shriek in horror at the most likely scenarios. Thus begins a wave of crime and terror as Inspector Konrad Sejer and his partner, Jacob Skarre try to find a jokester who finds amusement in other people’s pain and misery. The tricks are cruel and before they begin in earnest, Inspector Sejer receives an ominous postcard telling him of what’s to come. An elderly woman, idly contemplating her mortality and still in good health, reads her own obituary in the newspaper. A man in the last stages of ALS finds a hearse parked in his driveway, invited there by an anonymous caller. Ultimately, these antics get more serious and snowball out of control. Continue reading
In The Indian Bride (2007) also known as Calling Out For You in the UK, is translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund. A woman is found beaten to death in a meadow in the tiny village of Elvestad. It’s a quiet community with a total population of two thousand people. The local cafe serves as heart of the village. A place where the young & the old hang out for news and gossip. Inspector Konrad Sejer says that this is the most horrific crime he’s saw in Norway. The police turn to the community for help as they try to find the killer.
I thought this was a terrific read although I did have some issues with certain character’s actions in here. I see why Karin Fossum is popular but she won’t be to everybody’s tastes. She writes atypical, unconventional crime fiction stories that for me are refreshing. Her novels focus more (like she said) on the psychology of her characters and examines the impact and the aftermath of a murder in a community. You have a foreign woman found brutally beaten in a meadow. This is an unplanned crime. This is a crime of rage and impulsiveness. Continue reading
I haven’t been online much so forgive me if this news is repetitive but Jo Nesbo has another book due out in the U.S. this September 6th, a standalone, Headhunters, which is just around the corner. Here is the book’s description:
Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting that’s been lost since World War II—and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting. And Clas Greve may turn out to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to Roger Brown.
Oh, wow, that sounds really, really good don’t you think? It goes without saying that… I can’t wait to read this one.
“Good bank robbers are neither famous or quotable. You’ve never heard of them because they’ve never been caught. Because they are not direct or simple. The one you’re looking for is one of them.”
Nemesis is the book that got me started on Jo Nesbø two years ago. The series is set in Oslo and follows Inspector Harry Hole. I remember when I read this book I thought the writing was brilliant. I’d read nothing like it at the time (still true today). The protagonist might be cliche-ridden but the writing is awesome (!) The reason for my short excerpt above is that the story opens with a bank robbery. Cloaked in a balaclava, the armed suspect grabs the teller and demands the bank manager open the safe within 25 seconds or else. All hell breaks loose and under the nose of the police the suspect gets away.
An investigative team is quickly assembled in a conference room nicknamed The House of Pain. The team consists of several police officers but I’ll introduce the main ones in the story. First is Beate Lønn. She’s a cop whose expertise involves viewing endless hours of videotape and recognizing faces. She’s able to remember every face she’s ever seen in her life. She has this skill because of the abnormality in the part of the brain that is responsible for face and body recognition: the fusiform gyrus. She’s partnered with Inspector Harry Hole, who’s recently rejoined Crime Squad. He was working on an unrelated case (see The Redbreast). Continue reading