When The Devil Holds The Candle by Karin Fossum

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When The Devil Holds The Candle by Karin Fossum
Buy When The Devil Holds The Candle from Amazon.co.uk

Buy When The Devil Holds The Candle from Amazon.com

Genre: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A chilling psychological thriller - more Barbara Vine than Ruth Rendell - looks at the criminally degenerate mind in superb detail. A little slow to pick up pace, but when it does the book is impossible to put down. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: July 2005
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099461128

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I've long been a fan of Karin Fossum's Inspector Konrad Sejer books and when I saw When the Devil Holds the Candle I didn't hesitate to pick it up. There was no mention of Sejer or his young colleague, Jacob Skarre, on the front cover but I'd read enough of Fossum's work to know that the book would be worth reading. In the event Sejer and Skarre do feature in the book but not in the starring roles. This is a tense, psychological thriller, less akin to Ruth Rendell than to her alter ego Barbara Vine.

Andreas and his best friend, Zipp, were inseparable. Andreas worked and was happy to share what money he had with Zipp, who was unemployed. They'd spend what they had on beer and when the money ran out they'd resort to petty theft to get more. Zipp might have had a conscience but Andreas had none. Late one evening, having already drunk what they've stolen, they follow an old woman home and Andreas breaks into her house but never reappears. Zipp can't admit to the police – or anyone else – where he and Andreas were as that would implicate them in that crime and a couple of others that the police might be aware of.

Of course, someone else is aware of what has happened to Andreas and that's the occupant of the house. Irma Funder lived alone and had little contact with her family. Friends were not that many and not that friendly and the more we read of Irma the more we have to wonder whether or not she's completely sane. On the face of it she's the victim and Andreas the aggressor, but that's a situation which can change very easily. It's a terrifying look into the minds of the criminal and the victim – and an uneasy feeling that it could all be true.

Few writers switch easily from the police procedural to the psychological thriller, but Fossum has certainly established her credentials here. The story was just a little slow to get going but once it did the pace didn't let up. The police are baffled as to what might have happened to Andreas and it was fascinating to see Sejer's interrogation of the hapless Zipp from Zipp's point of view.

The conclusion is chilling and completely plausible. I was left with a feeling of horror at the stark inevitability of it all.

If this type of book appeals to you then we think that you'll enjoy Losing You by Nicci French or for another Scandinavian setting, have a look at our review of Missing by Karin Alvtegen.

Buy When The Devil Holds The Candle by Karin Fossum at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When The Devil Holds The Candle by Karin Fossum at Amazon.co.uk.


Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer novels in chronological order

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