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by Karin Fossum
Vintage, May 2006
400 pages
ISBN: 0099474662

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Gunder Jomann is a quiet, respectable middle-aged man living in small-town Norway. He's not exactly Speedy Gonzalez, but he's a very able salesman in his job selling agricultural machinery. Yet he feels there's something missing in his life.

A book called People of All Nations, given to him as a present by his sister Marie, puts ideas into his head. So he books a holiday to India -- and comes home a married man.

His bride Poona is due to join him a few days later, but on the day she's due to arrive, Marie is involved in a serious car crash and Gunder rushes to her bedside. The taxi driver sent to the airport to collect Poona cannot find her. And then an Indian woman is found battered to death in a field.

CALLING OUT FOR YOU is ostensibly a police procedural, with another appearance for Inspector Konrad Sejer and his colleague Jacob Skarre. But perhaps more compelling is the way Karin Fossum builds up a picture of a small Norwegian town with its feuds and personalities.

I was a tad disappointed with the earlier DON'T LOOK BACK where the ending never struck me as quite as dramatic as people claimed. Or maybe I just missed something! Anyway, CALLING OUT FOR YOU is generally more sinister and gripping.

It didn't bother me that Gunder and Poona's meeting and marriage was perhaps too neat. But I was a bit miffed by the ending which almost spoiled an impeccably-paced book. It was a few centimetres away from being a total cop-out. I'm all for cliff-hangers, but there's playing fair and playing fair . . .

Fossum takes some time to build up her characters -- best by far is Gunder, with Sejer a close second. The latter is not a man to be under-rated and certainly not a graduate of the thump, bang and crash school of investigating.

It's all slow moving, particularly Sejer's questioning of the main suspect, which is like a very leisurely chess game. If you're used to drama, noise and speed in police procedural scenes, you won't find it in CALLING OUT FOR YOU But if you like razor-sharp prose and measured writing, then it's more than worth your time.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, April 2006

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