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Nine-year-old Ida Joner gets on her brand-new bike and sets off to buy sweets. Thirty-five minutes after Ida should have come home, her mother, Helga, starts to worry. She phones the shop and various friends, but no one has seen her daughter. As the family being to search for Ida, Helga's worst nightmare becomes reality.
As the police are called in, hundreds of volunteers comb the neighbourhood, but there are no traces of the little girl, or her bike. As the relatives reach breaking point and the media frenzy begins, Inspector Sejer struggles to remains calm and reassuring. But usually missing children are found within forty-eight hours. Ida seems to have vanished without a trace.
Gumshoe Award winner Fossum (When the Devil Holds the Candle) once again wraps a blanket of methodical police work and infectious psychological tension around a relatively quiet crime in her fifth Inspector Sejer mystery to be made available in the U.S. When nine-year-old Ida Joner takes off for town (never named) on her new bike one afternoon and is never seen again, suspicion falls on Emil Johannes Mork, a silent, simple man. Emil, however, doesn't appear to have the heart of a killer. The narrative shifts smoothly among those affected by the tragedy: Emil's beleaguered mother, a good woman with little life of her own; a male cousin of the missing girl who may suffer some secret guilt; and, of course, Insp. Konrad Sejer and his younger colleague, Jacob Skarre. Sejer is a beautifully created character, a thoughtful, lonely man with great empathy. As he investigates Ida's disappearance, it's not so much the facts of the case as the impact of it on the people who surrounded the girl that fuel the story.