When the Devil Holds the Candle (Inspector Sejer Series #4)

When the Devil Holds the Candle (Inspector Sejer Series #4)

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Overview

When the theft of a purse from a stroller results in an infant's death, two teenagers are in trouble. Unaware of the enormity of their crime, Zipp and Andreas are intent on committing still another. They follow an elderly woman home, and Andreas enters her house with his ever-reliable switchblade. Motionless in the dark, Zipp waits for his friend to come out.

Inspector Konrad Sejer and his colleague Jacob Skarre see no connection between the infant's death and the reported disappearance of a local delinquent. And so while the confusion in the world outside mounts, the chilling, heart-stopping truth unfolds inside the old woman's home.

Unflappable as ever, Sejer digs below the surface of small-town tranquillity in an effort to understand how and why violence destroys everyday lives. Another brilliantly observed, precisely rendered psychological mystery from the highly acclaimed Karin Fossum.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547546582
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 06/04/2007
Series: Inspector Sejer Series , #4
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 48,887
File size: 3 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

Chapter ­1
 
           The courthouse. September 4, 4 p.m.
 
           Jacob Skarre glanced at his watch. His shift was over. He slipped a book out of his jacket pocket and read the poem on the first page. It’s like virtual reality, he thought. Poof!—and you’re in a completely different landscape. The door to the corridor stood open, and suddenly he was aware that someone was watching him, someone just beyond the range of his excellent peripheral vision. A vibration, light as a feather, barely perceptible, finally reached him. He closed the ­book.
 
           “Can I help ­you?”
 
           The woman didn’t move, just stood there staring at him with an odd expression. Skarre looked at her tense face and thought she seemed familiar. She was no longer young, maybe about sixty, and wore a coat and dark boots. There was a scarf around her neck, just visible; he could see it above her collar. Its pattern offered a sharp contrast to what she most likely possessed in the way of speed and elegance: racehorses with jockeys in colorful silks against a dark blue background. She had a wide, heavy face, elongated by a prominent chin. Her eyebrows were dark and had grown almost together. She was clutching a handbag against her stomach. Most noticeable of all was her gaze. Her eyes were blazing in that pale face. They fixed him with a tremendous force. Then he remembered who she reminded him of. What an odd coincidence, he thought, as he waited for her to speak. He sat there as if riveted by the silence. Any minute now, she was going to say something ­momentous.
 
           “It has to do with a missing person,” she ­said.
            Her voice was rough. A rusty tool creaking into motion after long idleness. Behind her white forehead burned a fire. Skarre could see it flickering in her irises. He was trying not to make assumptions, but obviously she was possessed. Gradually it dawned on him what sort of person he was dealing with. In his mind he rehearsed the day’s reports, but he could not recall whether any patients had been listed as missing from the psychiatric institutes in the district. She was breathing heavily, as if it had cost her considerable effort to come here. But she had made up her mind, driven by something. Skarre wondered how she had got past the reception area and Mrs. Brenningen’s eagle ­eye.
 
           “Who is missing?” he asked in a friendly ­voice.
 
           She kept staring at him. He met her gaze with the same force, curious to see if she would flinch. Her expression turned to one of ­confusion.
 
           “I know where he ­is.”
 
           Skarre was startled. “You know where he is? So he’s not ­missing?”
 
           “He probably won’t live much longer,” she said. Her thin lips began to ­quiver.
 
           “Whom are we talking about?” Skarre said. He hazarded a guess: “Do you mean your ­husband?”
 
           “Yes. My ­husband.”
 
           She nodded resolutely, stood there, straight­-­backed and unmoving, her handbag still pressed to her stomach. Skarre leaned back in his ­chair.
 
           “Your husband is sick, and you’re worried about him. Is he ­old?”
 
           It was an inappropriate question. Life is life, as long as a person is alive and means something, maybe everything, to another human being. He immediately regretted having asked, picked up his pen from the desk, and began twirling it between his ­fingers.
 
           “He’s like a child,” she said ­sadly.
 
           He was surprised at her response. What was she talking about? The man was sick, possibly dying. And senile, it occurred to him. Regressing to his childhood. At the same time Skarre had a strange feeling that she was trying to tell him something else. Her coat was threadbare at the lapels, and the middle button had been sewn on rather badly, creating a fold in the fabric. Why am I noticing these things? he ­wondered.
 
           “Do you live far from here?” He glanced at his watch. Perhaps she could afford a ­taxi.
 
           She squared her shoulders. “Prins Oscars Gate 17.” She enunciated the street name with crisp consonants. “I didn’t mean to bother you,” she ­said.
 
           Skarre stood up. “Do you need help getting ­home?”
 
           She was still staring into his eyes. As if there were something she wanted to take away with her. A glow, a memory of something very much alive. Skarre had a weird sensation, the sort of thing that happens only rarely, when the body reacts instinctively. He lowered his gaze and saw that the short blond hairs on his arms were standing on end. At the same moment, the woman turned around and walked slowly to the door. She took short, awkward steps, as if she were trying to hide something. He went back to his chair. It was 4:03 p.m. For his own amusement, he scribbled a few notes on his ­pad.
         
 
          
Copyright © J. W. Cappelens Forlag, A.S., 1998
English translation copyright © Felicity David, 2004
 
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 submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department,
Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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When the Devil Holds the Candle (Inspector Sejer Series #4) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
knittingnancy More than 1 year ago
The pleasure of reading a mystery story is often subverted by those you have already read...sooner or later, you will start solving the mystery yourself. Some authors present their characters in clear black and white...good and evil. But this author presents her tales closer to the way real life unfolds...more grey than black and white. The reader will usually harbour the most sympathy for the victims' family, but Fossum's tales unfold with the same honest grace as a camera slowly rolling 360 degrees around every character. This might seem to cause the tale to bog down, but each inch brings you inexorably to the truth, mean and raw. Good people are often driven by circumstance to do bad things, and the reader is allowed to come to judgement without being bludgeoned...how refreshing. I highly recommend reading this author's work. Scandinavian authors may be less conditioned to the violence Americans witness on TV every night, but this author proves that great plotting and sincere characterization moves the story along by emotionally connecting the reader to the action better than being constantly assaulted by physical violence. Aa great read.
mvaluri More than 1 year ago
This story involves an elderly,eccentric woman, and two teenage boys whose lives cross paths in an eerie way. Inspector Sejer becomes involved when one of the teens goes missing. Ms Fossum tells the tale in her unique way, from the perspective of the lonely, elderly woman, the naive, confused teens, and of course, Inspector Sejer, as he deals with getting older himself and relying more on his bright young assistant. One of Ms Fossum's best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoy Fossum's books and can't wait to read her others in this detective series.
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A psychological thriller wrapped up in a police procedural, and an fascinating read. We see this crime from the perspective of the perpetrators, from the perspective of the police, and from the perspective of the victim. The end result is a layered presentation that creates an extraordinary depth.
cameling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two delinquent teenagers begin their evening casually enough, by attempting to harass a little boy walking home but he manages to escape. The ensuing activities the teenagers engage in escalate in risk and violence, and a shocking secret is exposed. Inspector Sejer and his officer Skarre find themselves trying to resolve the murder of 2 young people and to find a missing boy. What appears to them, initially, to be separate and unconnected incidents suddenly take on the shape of pieces of a puzzle and they have to race against time to fit them together. The suspense mounts with each page turned, right up to the climactic end. The story is gripping and sweeps you along with the strength of a riptide.
gbelik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This entry into the series featuring Norwegian detective Konrad Sejer was a foray into Ruth Rendell territory of psychological suspense. Well written and thoroughly enjoyable.
steve.clason on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fossum has us spend a lot of time inside the heads of her victims and her antagonists, which I generally find refreshing, but I really had to struggle through this one. She deserves high praise for the narrative skill on display here, but I just didn't like the book.That said, I DO like Inspector Sejer and I'm moving right on to the next in the series, hoping to get further into his head and not so much into deranged criminals'.
dioritt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great story, shame about the shoddy translation.
gooutsideandplay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the third of her Konrad Sejer detective series I've read -- I don't know how many more have been translated into English. In my opinion, this is the best. For one thing, Konrad has a girl friend, which makes things interesting. His side-kick, detective Jacob Skarre has a meatier role in this one which I quite enjoyed --- loved his praying before interviewing the killer!! All around good detective-thriller-psycho drama. I can only imagine how good it must be in the original -- although I think this must be a very fine translation. As per usual, Fossum doesn't quite tie up the loose ends of the case -- so we are left with the uneasy feeling that all is not well. I'm starting to get used to that and enjoy it more and more. Can't wait to read the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes there are criminals and violence but evrn so this story basically misses the mystery. Two violent incidents lead to a wierd pieced together ending that left me cold is seger in this book just to draw in his fans? Is there a crime to solve? I give this book a thumbs down for it's tediousness
Anonymous More than 1 year ago