Saturday, October 2, 2010

Five best: international crime fiction

Geoffrey O'Brien is a poet, editor, and cultural historian. He is editor in chief for the Library of America. His nonfiction books include The Fall of the House of Walworth, Hardboiled America, Dreamtime, The Times Square Story, Red Sky Café, and Sonata for Jukebox.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of international crime fiction.

One novel on his list:
The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum, 2007

'The Water's Edge,' which traces the investigation of a young boy's random murder, is notably free of melodramatic complication and sleight-of-hand: Karin Fossum offers up scenes of rural Norwegian life that could pass as documentary observation. This is crime fiction as transcription of ordinary misery, with the horrors of violent death taking their place among the slower but finally no less destructive malaise of marital impasse, social rejection and children's capacity for cruelty. The degree to which the characters are bound to their milieu is made apparent at every turn—sometimes, in didactic bits of dialogue, almost too apparent. But the sense of place is relentlessly exact. Fossum, who began as a poet, evokes haunted landscapes and claustrophobic interiors with stark precision. Her protagonist, Inspector Sejer, is just the detective for such a book, somber, laconic, almost burnt out by what he has seen.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue