Bad Intentions

Written by Karin Fossum — Fossum’s background is in the caring professions. Having worked in hospitals, care homes and drug rehabilitation, it is clearly evident that she draws on these experiences, with her observation of human psychology used to great effect in this volume. She really does have the ability to construct utterly convincing and well-developed characters implicitly, with a panache that is intelligently conveyed.

Bad Intentions is an Inspector Sejer novel, but the Norwegian sleuth is merely a background figure in this, the seventh book of the series. Three young men – Axel, Jon and Reilly – are regular guys struggling to cope with a dark secret that will eventually destroy them.  The opening pages find them on a moonlit night out in a row boat on Dead Water Lake, but only two of them return. The next morning the questioning begins, thereon unravels a tale of self-loathing and self-preservation. The reader is made aware of their participation in some prior despicable act, yet what this wretched incident actually is remains a mystery for much of the story. When the ugly truth is revealed there is nothing left for the protagonists but perdition.

The book is essentially a study of human character and morality. Fossum expertly builds the tensions between the friends and draws you into the psychological power games that bind them together in this clever moral tale of fear, guilt and control. The reader is encouraged to question which way their own moral compass would lead them in a tragic episode like this. Most of us take for granted that we are ‘good people’ but how do you know you are really a good person if you have never been in a situation that tests your judgment?

This short work, coming in at less than 200 pages is a gem of Scandinavian crime fiction. It’s a real page-turner that’s sadly over in a matter of hours, but despite its slim spine it is big on impact and left me thinking about it well after the last page was read.  If you like something that gets you thinking, yet is accessible, get this book you will really enjoy it.

Harvill Secker
Kindle, Print
£6.93

CFL Rating: 5 Stars 

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