“Pranks can have lethal consequences, even when they seem harmless to start with . . . A poison bonbon that ranks with the best of Ruth Rendell.”—Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly
One mild summer evening, a young couple are enjoying dinner while their daughter sleeps peacefully in her stroller under a tree. When her mother steps outside she is stunned: the child is covered in blood.
Inspector Sejer is called to the hospital to meet the family. Mercifully, the child is unharmed, but the parents are deeply shaken, and Sejer spends the evening trying to understand why anyone would carry out such a sinister prank. Then, just before midnight, somebody rings his doorbell.
No one is at the door, but the caller has left a small gray envelope on Sejer’s mat. From his living room window, the inspector watches a figure disappear into the darkness. Inside the envelope Sejer finds a postcard bearing a short message: Hell begins now.
“No one can thoroughly chill the blood the way Karin Fossum can . . . will put you away, no questions asked.”—Los Angeles Times
At the outset of Fossum's unsettling eighth Inspector Sejer mystery to be published in the U.S. (after 2011's Bad Intentions), Karsten and Lily Sundelin fear the worst after they discover their eight-month-old baby girl covered in blood in their front yard. Fortunately, someone has only doused their child in blood and left her unharmed. Sejer and his junior partner, Jacob Skarre, soon discover more disturbing occurrences, from an elderly woman reading her own obituary in the local paper to a man suffering from ALS who's approached by a mortuary before he is dead. Meanwhile, the reader is privy to the thoughts of the unhappy 17-year-old perpetrator, Johnny Beskow, who has a grudge against his alcoholic mother and "a distinct talent for mischief." Fossum manages to create menace without a high body count, and strikes a realistic note by not allowing her investigators to wrap up everything.