Bad Intentions

Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780547483344. $24; eISBN 9780547519425.
First a young man in psychiatric treatment is found floating in Dead Water Lake, even though both his psychiatrist and a fellow patient declare that he was on the mend. Then a dead Vietnamese immigrant surfaces, and Inspector Konrad Sejer knows he's on to something bad. This latest in the Inspector Sejer series from redoubtable Norwegian author Fossum is for all readers of crime fiction.
Psychiatric patient Jon Moreno is released for a weekend excursion with childhood friends Phillip Reilly and Axel Frimann. When the three young men row to the middle of a lake on a frigid Norwegian night, anxiety-riddled Moreno falls overboard and drowns, and the surviving duo try to pass off the incident as a suicide. But Insp. Konrad Sejer isn't convinced. Guilt consumes the drug-addled Reilly while the reptilian Frimann struggles to maintain his composure as Sejer's investigation uncovers a link between the men and a recent missing-persons case—a connection that may explain the secret behind Moreno's mental illness and the baffling circumstances of his death.
VERDICT Fossum checks in with the seventh installment of her psychologically acute Inspector Sejer series after taking a brief detour last year with the stand-alone Broken. Although her prose is as sharp as ever, the characterizations are uncharacteristically thin, and the steely Sejer appears only sporadically. Fossum is one of Nordic noir's most skilled practitioners, but Sejer's faithful fans might be disappointed by his lukewarm return. [See Prepub Alert, 2/14/11.]—Annabelle Mortensen, Skokie P.L., IL

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