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When the Devil Holds the Candle (Inspector Konrad Sejer #4)

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  2,478 ratings  ·  255 reviews
When two teenagers steal a purse from a stroller, it results in an infant’s death. Unaware of the enormity of their crime, Zipp and Andreas are intent on committing another. They follow an elderly woman home, and Andreas enters her house with his switchblade. In the dark, Zipp waits for his friend to come out.Inspector Konrad Sejer and his colleague Jacob Skarre see no con ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 4th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published 1998)
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Scandinavian/Nordic Mysteries
56th out of 213 books — 450 voters
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Murder Most Cold
43rd out of 131 books — 293 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Annabelle
This is a Norwegian mystery with that particular existential, fatalist almost nihilist point of view. And also it is postmodern in that the detective doesn’t solve anything, although his circling the perpetuators of the crime helps bring resolution, which is karmic and not from the long arm of the law. I actually liked that part. The only sane people are Inspector Sejer, his sidekick, Skarre, Sejer’s huge dog and Sejer’s girlfriend. Sejer seems the persona of a stable Europe that is struck by th ...more
Tony
Fossum, Karin. WHEN THE DEVIL HOLDS THE CANDLE. (1998; U.S. 2004). ****1/2. Fossum writes un-put-downable books. This one is no exception. Her series detective, Inspecter Sejer, plays a relatively minor role in this one, but he does appear on the scene later in the novel. It’s the story of two yound men, Zipp and Andreas. Andreas is the better looking of the two and works at the local hardware store. Zipp, his constant – and only – friend is just an ordinary guy who doesn’t have a job, and doesn ...more
Deborah Moulton
It's hard to like a book this horrifying. It examines the intersection of casual petty crimes committed by bored, drunken young men with unintended, life-shattering consequences for them and their victims. As it is ofen said, "things get out of hand."

If the story had stuck to that it wouldn't have been so devastating a story, but complicating all the stories is the failure to help when it is critically needed. Teens who don't help themselves or each other when their lives depend on it. Adults,
...more
Edmund Leow
The story is chilling because the characters are so believeable. It's not about a murderer with some strange fixation or obsession, no revenge that dates 40 years ago, or a murderer who derives joy from killing. It's not about who did it, but how did things end up like this? It is about how everyday people's lives can quickly spiral out of control, or descend to tragedy - through pure chance and even though inaction... It is about how close to the edge most of us are, without realising. It makes ...more
Bill Garrison
Norwegian author Karen Fossum's WHEN THE DEVIL HOLDS THE CANDLE is another excellent entry into the Inspector Konrad Sejer series. I've read over half of the books in the series, and while they are very readable and offer fascinating looks into the minds of the deluded, criminal, and insane, they really don't feature the standard format of the cops looking for clues and catching the bad guys.

In this novel, Fossum looks at what happens when people considered normal give into evil, or evil overcom
...more
laura m
Apr 20, 2013 laura m rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any nordic/european crime ficton fan and anyone who loves psychological aspect more than action
This book is purely genial. I don't think I have ever "encountered" such a improbable and sadly deranged "villain".
I am using brackets when I say villain because there is no black and white in this book, everything is grey, from atmosphere to characters.
We really get to like the two weird but not bad hearted loner sort of teens despite their somewhat hasty and unthoughtful actions we might condone, all of this is just an intro into the black void which will swallow Andreas halfway through the bo
...more
Douglas Cook
I normally give Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer 5 stars, as they are so well crafted. This one is equally well-crafted but is amazingly depressing. [Guess I am a wimp :) ]

First paragraphs
Chapter 1 The courthouse. September 4, 4 P.M. Jacob Skarre glanced at his watch. His shift was over. He slipped a book out of his jacket pocket and read the poem on the first page. It's like virtual reality, he thought. Poof!—and you're in a completely different landscape. The door to the corridor stood open, and
...more
donna_ehm
It's a sign of good writing when the main character in your series - a cop, no less - only appears a few times in a book but yet you still find it engrossing. In fact, it's Sejer's colleague, Jacob Skarre, who does more of the heavy lifting in the detecting department in this story than Sejer (who admittedly has his hands full navigating a new relationship with a rather feisty younger woman, so we can forgive him if he spends a chunk of time off-screen).

The story is basically from the perspecti
...more
Anna
Apr 02, 2012 Anna added it
Recommends it for: fans of classic Scandinavian crime books
Shelves: 2012, bookcrossing
Third book in the Sejer series but the first one I read.
Fossum's style (at least in this book) reminds me of some of the other Scandinavian a generation ago crime authors like Sjöwall-Wahlöö and Joensuu.
(Or perhaps it was also influenced by such things as Columbo series in the TV, or vice versa?)
First we follow two young thugs who snatch a purse, and at some point of the thugs disappears. Sejer and Skarre end up turning the town upside down to find out where the thug is and what happened. Less
...more
El
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Gilligan-Nolan
A little different from her previous two books, featuring Sejer and Skarre, but equally as good. This one is about two 18-year old friends, Andreas and Zip, bored, broke and about to cross the line in a series of events that will leave several lives changed forever. Zip is led by Andreas into a purse snatching incident, involving a mother and her 4-month old baby, when Andreas takes the womans purse, she gives chase and does not secure the brake on the pram. The pram topples over a ledge at the ...more
Carolyn
I struggled a bit getting into this unconventional mystery novel, which doesn't really, in my mind, have any of the qualities that are typically associated with mysteries aside from the fact that there's a crime involved. One thing that I had to adjust to was the fact that the very interesting and likable Inspector Konrad Sejer is essentially a supporting character here, and I went in hoping to spend more time with him than the book provided. That's not to say that the characters we do spend mos ...more
Joan Colby
This is the second book I’ve read of Fossum’s Norwegian mysteries. If these two are typical, her work tends more to psychological studies than traditional who-dun-its. Fossum’s insights can be penetrating as in this example of Inspector Sejer on the death of his aged mother who had been comatose for years—“Mother—he murmured. How strange to say that word out loud and never to hear an answer again. He sank back in the chair, thinking that he ought to go home. He stood up, but left the chair where ...more
Nick
This is an odd book, not attributable entirely to a translation from Norwegian, I would imagine. As my obsession for Scandinavian mysteries moved from Sweden to Norway last year, I thought I should check out Fossum, who is listed by other obsessives as a must-read author in the sub-genre. There's a dream-like quality to the prose generated by the narrator, an aging and bitter woman who is both victim and perpetrator that reminds me of certain short stories and less-famous novels by Patricia High ...more
Doug Baird
My first Fossum book, so it's hard to draw any conclusions, but I was struck by the difference in emphasis on the part of the cops. In most US crime novels and police procedurals the cops are tough guys, macho men, avenger types. Criminals don't just do evil deeds, they are evil men, or women.
Fossum's cops are just as efficient at solving crimes, which in some instances is not very efficient, but their attitudes are much less anger/vengence-laced. The criminals are not inherently evil, they're
...more
Evelyne
Twee magere sterren, enkel en alleen door de o zo verschrikkelijke vertaling.

Moest dit rap-rap gaan voor de uitgever? Kromme zinnen, een vreselijke flow (lees een stukje hardop en je weet meteen wat ik bedoel), ik hield het gewoon niet uit...
Carmen
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book is the third book in the Inspector Sejer mystery series. This book is much spookier and creepier than the previous two. It also differs from the previous two in that you know who the murderer is from the beginning. A young man goes missing. Where could he be? Is he alive or dead? Fossum is a brilliant writer and makes you think deeply about insanity, and the strange things that happen in life. Her characters live and breathe. I love how she has many different people and stories that al ...more
Carole
Once again, Karin Fossum masterfully portrays all her characters: Inspector Sejer, Andreas, Zipp, and Irma all have great depth and come alive in her skillful hands. Her story explores the psyches of those who feel sidelined by society and those, like Irma, who feel invisible.

However, in this installment of the series, there are several serious weaknesses in the plot. First of all, there are too many coincidences that drive the narrative: the biggest one, of course, is that (view spoiler)
...more
Peter
A psychological drama more than a murder mystery that borders on horror fiction. The story is told from several points of view not in chronological order but it adds to the novel as the inner demons of the characters reveal themselves.

The characters are not only ordinary, but they are tortured by circumstances beyond their control. This leads to abnormal, criminal behavior by Andreas and his only pal Zipp 18 year olds without direction in life. Irma Funder, 60 years old, born unattractive and u
...more
Elan Durham
Lonely monsters with corruscating secrets locked in battle ... The problem with much of crime fiction, I think, after you've read quite a bit, is that the room becomes claustrophobic crowded in there with all those loonies. Karin Fossum, in WTDHTC, manages to create equally unsympathetic characters, who battle it out to the bitter end. Her Det. Sejer is less present in this novel, and as such the plot carries less moral valence. Evil succeeds because Detectives or in this case Policeman Skarre d ...more
Naomi
I plan on giving all of my Karin Fossum reviews the same statement because I don't even want the hint of a spoiler on this woman's fantastic work. Fossum's writing gave me my love of Scandanavian mystery writers and I seek those writings out. Hands down,though, Fossum's work is the best I have come across so far
Lisa
This is my favorite of the series. All of her books are great reads, but this one reminds me of Ruth Rendell.

Downloading the series may have been a mistake! I cannot put them down.
Nidia
Fantastic! Superb writing, real well-drawn characters and an unusual psychological thriller that kept me involved from the beginning.
Fossum is becoming a favorite author!
...more
Livia
I read about a third of this book before deciding I was done with it. I hate nearly all the characters in the book. The angelic-looking Andreas is a self-obsessed racist, his friend "Zipp" is an idiot and creepy old Irma, who keeps insisting she's sane in spite of all the evidence makes my skin crawl. Inspector Sejer's new girlfriend Sara is an irritating woman who calls phone sex lines when he's not around and smokes pot in his flat without his permission. Inspector Sejer was the only character ...more
Janellyn51
I really love these Sejer books. This one is subtly scary...and reminded me of that old Farrah Faucett film, which she was actually quite good in, where the guy steals her wallet and with her license in it, comes to her house but she turns the tables on him. Irma's pretty whacked, and it's interesting to know what's going through her mind through the whole thing. Did the kid get what he deserved? I'll tell you one thing. I really hate it when people make other people pay, when they are conflicte ...more
Shawn
My first book by this author and I have another on my bookshelf at home. I think it was the fourth book in the series and there was some background information that I didn't learn a lot about as well as some major character development, especially the main character. This story really did not focus on the main character, Inspector Sejer, as he played a relatively minor role in the resolution of the story. The other characters were fascinating and I felt myself commiserating with the characters. ...more
Ms. Jared
I really enjoyed this one. It drew me in immediately and kept me wondering what was going to happen next, would they find him in time, would she get away, and so on. The characters are pretty multi-dimensional and interesting and although Sejer played a very minor role and didn't even solve the crime, really, I like him as a character.

The only thing is, I don't think I "got" the ending with the son and the missing father and Zipp. Maybe I'm not supposed to? Maybe it's open ended so I can think u
...more
ErynnMarie
I don't know how to rate this book. The writing was very good. The story was captivating. But it was so dark! (I suppose the title should have been my first clue.) This is my second of Karin Fossum's works, and I think she is a fantastic writer. And it's particularly interesting to me to read a crime novel from another country. But it's just so dark.
Aside from the Inspector (who I find to be a refreshing, real, deep, and pleasant character), nearly everyone else in the story is ugly--either phys
...more
Ron Christiansen
I'm close to 4 stars, certainly 3.5. I assume some (which was confirmed in my friend Lynn's review) will be bothered that it isn't really a mystery--you know who dunnit right from the beginning. And I agree it's more of a psychological thriller but it seems other mysteries (including other Fossum novels) reveal the murderer from the beginning. To me it's simply a variation on the mystery.

I found the psychological exploration of Irma Funder (what a name) to be intriguing. We get a first-person n
...more
Bartek
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Is this really a mystery? (Spoilers!) 4 33 Aug 14, 2013 11:03AM  
Can someone explain the ending? spoilers obviously 5 42 May 21, 2013 03:19PM  
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Karin Fossum is a Norwegian author of crime fiction,often known there as the "Norwegian queen of crime". She lives in Oslo. Fossum was initially a poet, with her first collection published in 1974 when she was just 20. It won the Tarjei Vesaas' Debutant Prize. She is the author of the internationally successful Inspector Konrad Sejer series of crime novels, which have been translated into over 16 ...more
More about Karin Fossum...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Konrad Sejer (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Evas Öga (Inspector Konrad Sejer #1)
  • Don't Look Back (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #2)
  • He Who Fears the Wolf (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #3)
  • The Indian Bride (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #5)
  • Black Seconds (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #6)
  • Mordet på Harriet Krohn
  • The Water's Edge
  • Bad Intentions
  • The Caller
  • Carmen Zita og døden
Don't Look Back (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #2) The Indian Bride (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #5) He Who Fears the Wolf (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #3) Black Seconds (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #6) The Caller

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“If we don't believe in the Devil, we won't be able to recognize him when he suddenly shows up.” 8 likes
“It's hard, to live in the present. Right this minute. We spend most of our time in the past. Or in the future…about half in each. But to live in the present! Hardly anybody can do it.” 2 likes
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