Friday, August 2, 2013
Review of Black Seconds by Karin Fossum (Harvill Secker, 2007; Norwegian 2002)
Black Seconds is the sixth book in the Inspector Sejer series and the first I’ve read. I found it somewhat of a curious read as there was not much mystery to the case, yet it was oddly compelling. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. First, the storytelling is quite understated, simply focused on the unfolding of the events and its consequences to those involved. The characterisation and social interactions are keenly observed, providing a high degree of social realism and emotional sensitivity. The hook is the exploration of how crime and life are rarely black and white; through mishap and misadventure people can find themselves on the wrong side of the law and bound up in situations that are difficult to resolve. Second, the telling had a nice cadence and descriptive prose. The combination produced an engaging style that kept the pages turning, despite there being few moments of high drama and the plot being relatively transparent. Overall, a story where style and telling elevated a somewhat average story to into a captivating read.