Don't Look Back (Inspector Sejer Series #2)

Don't Look Back (Inspector Sejer Series #2)

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Meet Inspector Sejer: smart and enigmatic, tough but fair. At the foot of the imposing Kollen Mountain lies a small, idyllic village, where neighbors know neighbors and children play happily in the streets. But when the body of a teenage girl is found by the lake at the mountaintop, the town's tranquility is shattered forever. Annie was strong, intelligent, and loved by everyone. What went so terribly wrong? Doggedly, yet subtly, Inspector Sejer uncovers layer upon layer of distrust and lies beneath the town's seemingly perfect façade.

Critically acclaimed across Europe, Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer novels are masterfully constructed, psychologically convincing, and compulsively readable. They evoke a world that is at once profoundly disturbing and terrifyingly familiar.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547538846
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 06/01/2005
Series: Inspector Sejer Series , #2
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 60,686
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

KARIN FOSSUM is the author of the internationally successful Inspector Konrad Sejer crime series. Her recent honors include a Gumshoe Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for mystery/thriller. She lives in Norway.

Read an Excerpt


Ragnhild opened the door cautiously and peered out. Up on the road everything was quiet, and a breeze that had been playing among the buildings during the night had finally died down. She turned and pulled the doll's carriage over the threshold.

"We haven't even eaten yet," Marthe complained.

She helped push the carriage.

"I have to go home. We're going out shopping," Ragnhild said.

"Shall I come over later?"

"You can if you like. After we've done the shopping."

She was on the gravel now and began to push the carriage toward the front gate. It was heavy going, so she turned it around and pulled it instead.

"See you later, Ragnhild."

The door closed behind her-a sharp slam of wood and metal. Ragnhild struggled with the gate, but she mustn't be careless. Marthe's dog might get out. He was watching her intently from beneath the garden table. When she was sure that the gate was properly closed, she started off across the street in the direction of the garages. She could have taken the shortcut between the buildings, but she had discovered that it was too difficult with the carriage. Just then a neighbor closed his garage door. He smiled at her and buttoned up his coat, a little awkwardly, with one hand. A big black Volvo sat in the driveway, rumbling pleasantly.

"Well, Ragnhild, you're out early, aren't you? Hasn't Marthe got up yet?"

"I slept over last night," she said. "On a mattress on the floor."

"I see."

He locked the garage door and glanced at his watch; it was 8:06 A.M. A moment later he turned the car into the street and drove off.

Ragnhild pushed the carriage with both hands. She had reached the downhill stretch, which was rather steep, and she had to hold on tight so as not to lose her grip. Her doll, who was named Elise-after herself, because her name was Ragnhild Elise-slid down to the front of the carriage. That didn't look good, so she let go with one hand and put the doll back in place, patted down the blanket, and continued on her way. She was wearing sneakers: one was red with green laces, the other was green with red laces, and that's how it had to be. She had on a red sweat suit with Simba the Lion across the chest and a green anorak over it. Her hair was extraordinarily thin and blond, and not very long, but she had managed to pull it into a topknot with an elastic band. Bright plastic fruit dangled from the band, with her sprout of hair sticking up in the middle like a tiny, neglected palm tree. She was six and a half, but small for her age. Not until she spoke would you guess that she was already in school.

She met no one on the hill, but as she approached the intersection she heard a car. So she stopped, squeezed over to the side, and waited as a van with its paint peeling off wobbled over a speed bump. It slowed even more when the girl in the red outfit came into view. Ragnhild wanted to cross the street. There was a sidewalk on the other side, and her mother had told her always to walk on the sidewalk. She waited for the van to pass, but it stopped instead, and the driver rolled down his window.

"You go first. I'll wait," he said.

She hesitated a moment, then crossed the street, turning around again to tug the carriage up on the sidewalk. The van slid forward a bit, then stopped again. The window on the opposite side was rolled down. His eyes are funny, she thought, really big and round as a ball. They were set wide apart and were pale blue, like thin ice. His mouth was small with full lips, and it pointed down like the mouth of a fish. He stared at her.

"Are you going up Skiferbakken with that carriage?"

She nodded. "I live in Granittveien."

"It'll be awfully heavy. What have you got in it, then?"

"Elise," she replied, lifting up the doll.

"Excellent," he said with a broad smile. His mouth looked nicer now.

He scratched his head. His hair was disheveled, and grew in thick clumps straight up from his head like the leaves of a pineapple. Now it looked even worse.

"I can drive you up there," he said. "There's room for your carriage in the back."

Ragnhild thought for a moment. She stared up Skiferbakken, which was long and steep. The man pulled on the handbrake and glanced in the back of the van.

"Mama's waiting for me," Ragnhild said.

A bell seemed to ring in the back of her mind, but she couldn't remember what it was for.

"You'll get home sooner if I drive you," he said.

That decided it. Ragnhild was a practical little girl. She wheeled the carriage behind the van and the man hopped out. He opened the back door and lifted the carriage in with one hand.

"You'll have to sit in back and hold the carriage. Otherwise it'll roll around," he said, and lifted in Ragnhild too.

He shut the back door, climbed into the driver's seat, and released the brake.

"Do you go up this hill every day?" He looked at her in the mirror.

"Only when I've been at Marthe's house. I stayed over."

She took a flowered overnight bag from under the doll's blanket and opened it, checking that everything was in place: her nightgown with the picture of Nala on it, her toothbrush and hairbrush. The van lumbered over another speed bump. The man was still looking at her in the mirror.

"Have you ever seen a toothbrush like this?" Ragnhild said, holding it up for him. It had feet.

"No!" he said. "Where did you get it?"

"Papa bought it for me. You don't have one like it?"

"No, but I'll ask for one for Christmas."

He was finally over the last bump, and he shifted to second gear. It made an awful grinding noise. The little girl sat on the floor of the van steadying the carriage. A very sweet little girl, he thought, red and cute in her sweat suit, like a ripe little berry. He whistled a tune and felt on top of the world, enthroned behind the wheel in the big van with the little girl in the back. Really on top of the world.

The village lay in the bottom of a valley, at the end of a fjord, at the foot of a mountain, like a pool in a river, where the water was much too still. And everyone knows that only running water is fresh. The village was a stepchild of the municipality, and the roads that led there were indescribably bad. Once in a while a bus deigned to stop by the abandoned dairy and pick up people to take them to town. There were no night buses back to the village.

Kollen, the mountain, was a gray, rounded peak, virtually neglected by those who lived there, but eagerly visited by people from far-off places. This was because of the mountain's unusual minerals and its flora, which was exceptionally rare. On calm days a faint tinkling could be heard from the mountaintop; one might almost believe it was haunted. In fact, the sound was from sheep grazing up there. The ridges around the mountain looked blue and airy through the haze, like soft felt with scattered woolen veils of fog.

Konrad Sejer traced the main highway in the road atlas with a fingertip. They were approaching a traffic circle. Police Officer Karlsen was at the wheel, keeping an attentive eye on the fields while following the directions.

"Now you have to turn right onto Gneisveien, then up Skiferbakken, then left at Feltspatveien. Granittveien goes off to the right. A cul-de-sac," Sejer said pensively. "Number 5 should be the third house on the left."

He was tense. His voice was even more brusque than usual.

Karlsen maneuvered the car into the housing development and over the speed bumps. As in so many places, the new arrivals had taken up residence in clusters, some distance from the rest of the local community. Apart from giving directions, the two policemen didn't talk much. They approached the house, trying to steel themselves, thinking that perhaps the child might even be back home by now. Perhaps she was sitting on her mother's lap, surprised and embarrassed at all the fuss. It was 1:00 P.M., so the girl had been missing for five hours. Two would have been within a reasonable margin, five was definitely too long. Their unease was growing steadily, like a dead spot in the chest where the blood refused to flow. Both of them had children of their own: Karlsen's daughter was eight, Sejer had a grandson of four. The silence was filled with images, which might turn out to be correct-this was what struck Sejer as they drew up in front of the house.

Number 5 was a low white house with dark-blue trim. A typical prefab house with no personality, but embellished like a playroom with decorative shutters and scalloped edges on the gables. The yard was well kept. A large veranda with a prettily turned railing ran around the entire building. The house sat almost at the top of the ridge, with a view over the whole village, a small village, quite lovely, surrounded by farms and fields. A patrol car that had come on ahead of them was parked next to the mailbox.

Sejer went first, wiping his shoes carefully on the mat, and ducking his head as he entered the living room. It took them only a second to see what was happening. She was still missing, and the panic was palpable. On the sofa sat the mother, a stocky woman in a gingham dress. Next to her, with a hand on the mother's arm, sat a woman officer. Sejer could almost smell the terror in the room. The mother was using what little strength she had to hold back her tears, or perhaps even a piercing shriek of horror. The slightest effort made her breathe hard, as was evident when she stood up to shake hands with Sejer.

Copyright © Karin Fossum 2002
English translation copyright © Felicity David, 2002

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Don't Look Back (Inspector Sejer Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
I read this years ago, and it was one of the those mysteries that seemed so very dark--the setting in the cold northern forested mountains, in the gloom of people's lives. It did help to introduce me to a vein of fiction that I have been following ever since. It almost seems as though Scandinavian fiction is an acquired taste: perhaps a little harsh on first exposure, but gradually one develops an insatiable thirst for the unique flavor they impart...For those that find the harsh winter landscapes irresistible, one must recommend the accessible Henning Mankell novels from Sweden, and the Erlendur Sveinsson novels from Iceland.
mellonball More than 1 year ago
I just recently started reading Ms. Fossum's book, so I'm not reading them in order of release, but don't think that is a necessity. After reading the Indian Bride, I was hooked. This book was more on the edge of your seat, especially the first and last chapters. I think mystery readers will like this series and I intend to read them all.
sewolf0310 More than 1 year ago
Grabs you right from the start. A young girl is found dead and completely naked except for a jacket gently placed to cover her.  It’s a small town where everyone knows each other.  This is the type of girl everyone loved and could not imagine anyone wanting to hurt, let alone murder her.  A once very athletic girl has a change in her personality and becomes a bit withdrawn, and no one knows why, not even her boyfriend.  But nothing that anyone would want to see her dead.  Inspector Sejer is the man to solve the crime, bit by bit and piece by piece. Why is it that the person who took the time to cover the body does not report it to the police?  Was it the killer?  Does the killer have a conscience?  Was it an accident?  But her body was carefully posed and left by the water.  If it wasn’t the killer, why didn’t the person who found her report it? So many characters of all kinds keeps you guessing who could have done such a thing.  Short chapters keep you turning pages to see what happens next and who did it.
BookLoverCT More than 1 year ago
This is the second of the Inspector Sejer series translated to English. I enjoy the writing and look forward to the endings - I like the suspense generated. She's an excellent storyteller. I intend to read the rest in the series.
minnesotagal More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy Scandinavian Authors. It was an easy read and held my interest all the way through. I like the small town feel to the police department and there characters. Looking forward to the next book in the series. Wish that the First book was out in English!! I would recommend this book and also books by Camilla Lackberg.
Membrillita More than 1 year ago
Mystery lovers must read this wonderful inspector Sejer mystery. So elegant and subtle yet always keeping the reader on edge. A compelling page turner that propelled me to buy and read whatever is available by Karin Fossum without regrets so far.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am surprised to see I am the first to do a review on the book.. I thought it was a good book. The plot was well written although the beginning had me a little worried if you read it you will know what I mean.. But the book turned out to be good and kept you guessing until the end but it was one of those books you were like ah ha I knew it was that person or that it was going to end like that. But I would still recommend it..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Claustrophobic. Has its moments but the language is strange, I'd guess because it is a translation. I will read more of this series.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The investigation of the disappearance of a young girl in a small Norwegian town results in the discovery of a body. Who killed this seemingly-well-liked girl, and why was she killed? If Inspector Sejer and his partner, Skarre, can unlock the secret of her personality, this might lead them to her killer.I was pleasantly surprised when the story went in some unexpected directions. Its ending was unpredictable until I had read well past the halfway point. Fossum cast suspicion on a number of credible suspects. The problem is that some of the suspects were cleared of suspicion by events or circumstances that weren't fully explained. Still, it's a strong start to a series that's become popular with fans of Scandinavian crime fiction.The relationship between middle-aged Sejer and the younger Skarre reminded me a bit of the relationship between Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir in Louise Penny's Three Pines series. They're not quite as charismatic as Penny's duo, but the dynamic is similar. This might be a good series for Penny's fans to experiment with while waiting for the release of the next Three Pines novel.
steve.clason on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chief Inspector Konrad Sejer is a pretty good protagonist for a detective series -- damaged (but only slightly), outwardly reserved with a deep if not particularly rich inner emotional life, smart, respected and without much in the way of attachments. We find out a little about him in this, the first published in English translation although actually the second in the Sejer series, but not so much that we wouldn't want to come back to find out more. I immediately took steps to get my hands on the next in the series, "He Who Fear the Wolf", so it's at least that good.But it isn't great. Somehow the tension wasn't there. It was like we knew we'd find out WhoDidIt but had to do our duty and read the words. The really interesting character started out dead, which was maybe the problem.
BillPilgrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Scandinavian mystery.A teenage girl is found killed at a lakefront. Investigation turns on the death of a young child, very hyperactive, a few years earlier, whose death was then ruled an accident. The girl who is now dead was a baby sitter for him, and her personality changed after the child's death.At first this seemed like a straight procedural detective story, with little exploration of the characters and their personalities. But, it did develop into more than I expected, which made it more enjoyable for me.
cmwilson101 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent story, very well crafted, about a nice, well-liked young girl who is killed in a small town, and the detective who solves the mystery of her death in a careful, slow way. Very intriguing story. As someone who grew up in a small town, I can testify that Karin Fossum captured the dynamics perfectly.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don¿t Look Back by Karin Fossum is the second book in her Inspector Sejer series, although it is the first to be translated into English. Taking place in a small town in Norway, this is a case of everyone knowing both the victim, the witnesses and, perhaps even the murderer.Written in a very different style from most of the Scandicrime books I have read, at first I missed the moody atmosphere that I have come to expect. Nevertheless, this is a first class police procedural and the tension mounts slowly as the police slowly put the pieces together in the death of a fifteen year old girl. With a few red herrings scattered about, they sort through the evidence, painstakingly interview witness and suspects alike. With Inspector Konrad Sejer, the author has created a strong main character to build her mysteries around and I hope to see more development of this character as the series evolves. In this first book, he acts very much as the lens of a camera, recording the events that happen around him. There are small hints of an interesting backstory and I do hope to learn more in successive books.Karin Fossum has delivered a good story with suspense and tension, and I certainly will be continuing on with this series.
gbelik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like this series by a Norwegian crime novelist. Great atmosphere and characters that you want to visit again.
Crazymamie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first book that I have read by Norwegian author Karin Fossum, and I liked it, but I didn't love it. I think I was expecting something grittier and darker, and so I was tensed throughout the book waiting for the other shoe to drop...and it never did. That being said, it was a solid mystery with excellent pacing and interesting characters.Inspector Sejer is called out to investigate the disappearance of a six year old girl who eventually turns up, but when she shares her story, the police investigate and discover the body of 15 year old Annie Holland who has been murdered and left lying naked, except for a jacket that doesn't belong to her, on the beach. It's a small town, and everyone knows everyone else's business, but no one seems to know what happened to Annie or why someone would want to hurt her. Although I guessed the murderer early on, watching the story play out was well worth the time it took to read. I will read the next in this series as I have found that many great mystery series need several books to develop the characters and the writing style. Also, now that I know that this is not a series like those of Jo Nesbo or Stieg Larson, both of whom I love, I will have different expectations. Fossum did surprise me with the last few pages - and creeped me out a bit.
ccayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this more than I did. The crime and setting were creepy. This is the first of a series featuting Inspector Sejer and I got glimpses of his character, primarily his relationship with his dog, but I wanted more. I think Fossum could have done much more with character development and I also found the ending ambiguous and unsatisfying.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Annie was fifteen. She was pretty, athletic and popular. No one would ever think of hurting her.. but someone did. Her body was found near a lake, shattering the tranquil setting of her sleepy hometown in Norway. Inspector Konrad Sejer, middle-aged, taciturn, is called in to investigate. Fossum is a strong writer, who builds her story quietly, carefully peeling off layers, revealing dark unsettling secrets. I like the fact that she does not just stay focused on the point of view of the Inspector but also spends time with some of the other characters, filling out the narrative. This is the first book in a series and one I highly recommend.
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another terrific thriller from Karin Fossum, featuring the slow- moving but perceptive Inspector Sejer. This time, he is investigating the death of a lovely young girl, in a small Norwegian town. The peeling back of the town's secrets is extraordinarily suspenseful, the atmosphere is powerfully drawn, and the writing a real pleasure.
sjmccreary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in the series featuring Inspector Sejer, and is set in Norway. In this book, the body of a popular, athletic teenage girl is discovered beside the lake in a popular wooded hiking area near the small village where she lived. There are few clues and Sejer must keep digging to learn more about the girl. She was universally well-liked, so it seems that no one would have a motive for killing her. On the other hand, at 15 she was a beautiful young woman who might have captured the imagination of any man in town who could have gotten carried away by a fantasy gone wrong. Suspects include the down's syndrome man who discovered the body and who, as everyone knows, has a "thing" for girls. Or it might have been her sullen boyfriend, 18 years old, whose father died under suspicious circumstances. Or maybe her mother's first husband, a man who was angry at having been denied access to his own daughter. Or it could have been somehow related to the death of a neighborhood boy several months earlier - a hyperactive 2-year old that she used to babysit - the timing of which coincides with an unexplained change in her personality. Or the coach of the handball team that she suddenly quit at about the same time - a man who had earlier served a prison sentence for rape. Or it might have had to do with a secret that she was keeping to herself that was discovered by police.Sejer methodically plods through all the evidence, interviewing the suspects over and over, uncovering something new each time until the pieces finally all fall into place. Not a fast paced thriller, but it does not drag. Sejer is also introduced, a widower who lost his wife to cancer. He thinks about her often, ponders his relationship with his daughter, and dotes on his grandson. He lives on the top floor of the only high-rise apartment in town and keeps a large dog inside the no-pets building. He is alone, but can't quite decide if he is lonely.I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those mystery books you read on a rainy Saturday afternoon in one sitting. The story flows in a simplistic but compelling manner; An easy read with a great story line. As someone from LibraryThing once said suggested for a genre, "a bring-to-the-beach kind of book." In that case Don't Look Back was summer fare read too early (for me). It is the mystery of the death of a teenage girl. Known throughout her small town she was loved by nearly everyone. How could someone so charming, so lovable, so perfect die so young? Inspector Sejer is the lead investigator on the case. With calm and quiet tenacity he unravels a seemingly sweet life only to reveal lies and suspicions. This is the kind of mystery that keeps the pages turning as things become more and more complicated. Originally written in Norwegian and translated by Felicity David, Don't Look Back urges the reader to keep turning the pages until compulsively, the entire book has been read from cover to cover.
DowntownLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A child is lost and found and a teenage girl is murdered. For fans of classic police procedurals ¿ excellent characterization and plot.
vancouverdeb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum is a solid 4 star read. I so enjoyed the complexities and shades of gray of this thriller/ mystery. This is Karin Fossum's first book that was translated into English -and what a wonderful read!In this story we are introduced to Skarre and Sejer, the two Norwegian Detectives who make up the police duo of Karin Fossum's thriller/ mysteries. I so enjoy her writing. It's so refreshing compared to many North American thriller/ mysteries. The police are not corrupt, men are not busy chasing women, nor going to bed with every skirt in sight, and they have no need of swearing - at least in the two Karin Fossum's that I have read. Right there, Karin Fossum has it on many a thriller/ mystery written in North America.I enjoyed the many aspects of so many lives that were investigated in the course of this mystery. Karin Fossum is great at developing psychological portraits of many of the characters, and giving us an understanding of why people do what they do. Things are not neccesarily black and white - and I appreciate that, as that is what life is so often like.The story starts out with a missing six year old, Ragnhild......... and from there the body of 15 year old Annie is found dead beside a lake. Who did what, and why -and what are the ramifications and reasoning - if any - behind these events? Well, I do not want to give away the plot -but suffice it to say that Karin Fossum has become on of my favourite new thriller/ mystery writers. The story is mulitfaceted and the ending most thought provoking.Karin Fossum gives such wonderful psychological insight into her character's - I think she is now one of my favourite authors. I highly recommend her!
BCCJillster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
LOL lots of twists and turns and satisfying surprises. Starts with thedisappearance of a little girl in a small town. Nothing is quite whatit seems as the characters and story evolve.A tad dry, at times it felt a bit like Dragnet in sticking to thefacts, ma'm but that's my only tiny complaint. I read it with my onlinegroup and we all tried to guess what was happening at various points (but keptour guesses hidden til everyone was through).I'll try more by this author because I liked her plotting and her detective.
duncano More than 1 year ago
Karin Fossum continues to delivery top quality, thought provoking crime reading. Highly recommended.
ladybook More than 1 year ago
All of Fossums books are great....this one especially! The only thing I regret is that her books are too short. I would enjoy reading a 400pager by Fossum. She is unique.