By Karin Fossum
Inspector Konrad Sejer returns in Norwegian author Karin Fossum’s stark and oh-so-dark The Whisperer. The titular whisperer is Ragna Riegel, whose vocal cords were damaged in a botched operation, rendering her unable to speak in anything but the most hushed of tones. The surgery is just one in a series of unhappy life events that have left Ragna something of a recluse, her day-to-day existence repetitive and boring—that is, until she receives an anonymous and succinct death threat: “You are going to die.” At first, the police are somewhat lackadaisical in their response, treating the incident as little more than a prank. But as follow-up messages arrive, Sejer finds sufficient cause to launch an investigation, if not for the reasons Ragna might have preferred—he is suspicious that Ragna is in fact the perpetrator of a crime, and not a victim at all. Sympathetic by nature, Sejer nonetheless chips away at Ragna’s facade in the hope of exposing her crime, all the while finding himself moved by the loneliness and grief of her life. Fossum excels at this sort of psychological suspense, and as such, she is one of the leading lights of the Scandinavian whodunit genre.