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The Caller

(Konrad Sejer #10)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  4,314 ratings  ·  435 reviews
One mild summer evening Lily and her husband are enjoying a meal while their baby daughter sleeps peacefully in her pram beneath a maple tree. But when Lily steps outside she is paralysed with terror. The child is bathed in blood.

Inspector Sejer is called to the hospital to meet the family. Mercifully, the baby is unharmed, but her parents are deeply shaken, and Sejer spen
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 7th 2011 by Harvill Secker (first published 2009)
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Susan Yes, though it is a bit dark, like all of us Norwegians...I've read two or three of her earlier Inspector Sejer books, have liked them all. I am liste…moreYes, though it is a bit dark, like all of us Norwegians...I've read two or three of her earlier Inspector Sejer books, have liked them all. I am listening to this one on CD from the library. I always like to have one going for the car...Almost finished with it.(less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Rachel Hall
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Given I am neither particularly liberally minded or profound, I am surprised at my affection for the mesmering prose of Karin Fossum, an author whose intelligence and understanding transcends barriers and packs a hefty punch each and every time. Fossum is less concerned with apportioning blame and simply seeing the wrongdoer dealt with by the criminal justice system. Her concern is in exploring every aspect of a crime; from the motivation of the perpetrator to the effects on victims, communities ...more
Lukasz Pruski
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Norway's Karin Fossum is one of my most favorite authors. She writes about things that interest me, and she writes in a way that is close to perfect for my taste. I do not care much about plot, and do not need fast action. Ms. Fossum writes about Little Things That Are Important In Life, and she writes about them beautifully.

"The Caller" is another lovely, little, quiet book, where seemingly nothing much extraordinary happens for the most part. And yet, people get sick, divorce, and die, becaus
Lisa Beaulieu
Oct 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
I don't think it is the book, or I should say, the writing, that merits one star. Karin Fossum is who she is - she writes offbeat quiet books about oddballs with compassion and yadayadayada ... I think I am just done with the oddball genre. Halfway through this book I found myself flipping to get back to the parts about Sejer and Skarre, the 2 detectives, who are delightful characters. I just couldn't take any more mopey pov from the nut case(s)(there's always more than just the one). I realized ...more
A Man Called Ove
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
A teenager plays dark pranks on people in his area - bathing an infant in blood, publishing false obituaries, calling ppl to inform them that a family member has been hospitalised etc. Finally a prank results in a death and the pranks stop. Khatam kahani.
Fossum seems to absolve perpetrators of crimes of any responsibility. I understand there can be some empathy but not for violent acts that destroy the lives of others.
The only mystery is how I have managed to read 4 books by d author despite dec
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Both Karin Fossum and Barbara Vine have that gift of creating characters who leap off the page and into full realization from the first time they appear. Their ability to build empathy for their most troubled creations which makes their novels especially rich and affecting.

In "The Caller" someone is playing cruel pranks in the neighborhood. These tricks are of the sort that undermine the victims' basic sense of safety and trust in the world, no one is hurt, but their lives will never be the same
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
How would you feel at his place?

And here we go - another psychological thriller from cold north. I was impressed by the annotation, because I like crime stories with teenagers and doesn't matter if they're offenders or victims. Yes, so little it takes to happiness.

As we already know, the main ''provocateur'' (by the way, that's how they translated the name of this book in my country) is Johnny Beskow, who doesn't have enviable life. He never knew his father and his mother - alcoholic, doesn't ca
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
notes to self - not a perfect book as some things were left unresolved. This had as focus a disturbed young man who lived with alcoholic mother who wanted to stir things up, and he managed that in various forms of torture that many referred to as pranks. Dripping blood all over an infant in pram in her backyard whilst the mother was in house preparing meal; after observing a husband in wheelchair with his wife sitting next to him he called for a hearse, pretending to be a doctor reporting a deat ...more
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The book takes you deep into the hearts and minds of both victims and perpetrators, and, as in other Karin Fossum novels, the mystery is not who did it, but what made them do it. Fossum is no apologist for criminal behaviour, and never makes light of the consequences of her characters' villainous actions. Nevertheless, she can make you understand them in ways no other writer can. She shows a depth of compassion and insight rare not only in crime literature, but any literature. It's as if she's s ...more
Andy Weston
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, translated, norway
In some ways this is typical Fossum, with Sejer playing a key but small role, and set in a small and ordinary Norwegian town where everything seems on the face of it to be in order. Somebody is playing nasty practical jokes on helpless victims, and they get steadily worse. There is that sense that something much more nasty is about to occur.
She’s a great writer, always able to build up tension and enthral, with that dark quality to her work that gives a sense of unease. But this isn’t one of he
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Maybe 2.5
Fossum is such a good writer. How could this happen? The book suddenly dropped off a cliff.
Mark Rubinstein
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-fiction
Okay, this is a Norwegian mystery, one of the many Scandinavian novels flooding the market since the success of the Millennium trilogy.

The premise is interesting. A 17 year-old boy with a deprived homelife sets about playing malicious pranks on people in and around his village. Some of them have dreadful consequences. Kids can be really vicious, for sure.

The novel's problem is simple: there is very little suspense or tension. Much of it is written from the POV of the boy and you know his motiva
Ava Catherine
A great Inspector Sejer mystery; however, a little slower paced than most of Fossum's novels. Overall, a great read. The ending is sublime.
Roderick Hart
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
[This review contains spoilers]

The main character in this book is Johnny Beskow, a teenager with a moped and a mother. His mother leaves a lot to be desired. She is an alcoholic with no real interest in her son, who is left to fend for himself a great deal. He does have a grandfather, whom he visits regularly and tries to look after. His mother has an interest in the old man too – how much money he might leave her when he dies.

Johnny, having little life of his own, decides to make an impact on
Mark Stevens
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
“The Caller” lives in a world of slow-grinding cruelty, of mean neighborhood streets. The stakes aren’t high, unless you’re one of the rattled victims of the mean pranks and cruel tricks, but Karin Fossum shows how much mental destruction is possible even from low-grade violence.

“The Caller” didn’t really work that well for me because there wasn’t a whole lot of detection and uncovering going on by Inspector Konrad Sejer.

He seems kind of la-dee-dah about the whole situation, even though he’s c
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own-books
A series of cruel pranks and hoaxes disturbs a Norwegian community, and while to begin with at least nobody is actually harmed there are consequences for the victims, some of whom are unable to settle back into their previous secure lives. We get to know the perpetrator and see something of his motivation (mainly the lack of love and security at home). Eventually Sejer and his team begin to get some information about him, but the events comes to an unexpected and tragic conclusion, and not every ...more
Carinae L'etoile
Billed as a thriller, it did anything but. Maybe I need to re-visit it later on, but for now it was just ok. Ok enough for me to let you know it was ok, but not enough for me to write a full blown review.

To be honest, the blurb was far more interesting than the book itself.
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
A prankster keeps Inspector Sejer and Sharre on their toes. This novel might not be Karin Fossum best but it is a good read. The ending may disappoint readers who want their lose ends tied neatly.
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
"He's probably inadequate in many ways, deprived of experience and companionship. Perhaps his motive is fairly modest, and it's all about the need every human shares. He just wants attention."

Inspector Sejer describes the bold prankster terrorizing a small Norwegian town in this 10th book in a remarkable series. Fossum is skilled at shaping depth in her characters so that no one is all bad and none are perfect, including our hero, the perceptive investigator. These books never cease to surprise
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a very disturbing book about the damage that is done by a young man who reacts to his bad upbringing by deciding to make people face their worst fears. In so doing he inflicts more damage than he ever meant to. The conclusion of the book is not clear and leaves, in my option, too much to the imagination of the reader.
Barbara Lemon
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I will continue to read this author because this book made me think about human interactions. I was sucked right into this story and into the lives of the characters. The insights into human behaviors were well done. I left off one star because I felt the ending was too abrupt. Also, one of the crimes was horrific, so, if you find that hard to read, this might not be the novel for you. I was certainly affected and suitably horrified.I don't like to punish a book because a horrifying scen ...more
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: zz-kindle, byb2020
Practical jokes go too far and have dire consequences.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: detective-novels
Karin Fossum: The Caller (originally "Varsleren" in Norwegian; read a Finnish transl.)

I have read several of Karin Fossum's, a Norwegian crime writer's, novels. This was as good as her novels are, though a bit different in the plot. In many a usual crime novel the crime/murder happens in the beginning, and the rest is about solving the case. Not this time.

The book starts with a baby sleeping peacefully in the family garden while the parents happily eat in their house. They find their little girl
Kathleen Hagen
The Caller, by Karin Fossum, A. Narrated by David Rintoul, produced by Random House Audio, downloaded from

The latest in the Inspector Sejer, Norway, series. A happy couple with a sweet little baby think nothing could go wrong in their world. They have left the baby to sleep in her pram under the maple tree while they had a meal. But when the mother comes out to get the baby, she finds her daughter bathed in blood. They rush to the hospital and it turns out that blood is not her baby
J.E. Fishman
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I have never read Karin Fossum before, and it strikes me that this book may not have been the right place to start. It’s something of an anti-mystery/thriller. The perpetrator is known from the start and the victims for the most part remain unknown to the reader until just before bad luck befalls them. As a consequence, much of the dramatic tension comes from the general sense of inconvenience (one could hardly call it danger) felt by the residents of a small town with a cruel prankster on the l ...more
Victoria Moore
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"The Caller," an Inspector Sejer Mystery, by Karin Fossum is a very strange book. I'm not sure if the mystery genre it's supposed to represent is psychological thriller or black comedy because it overlaps into both categories, with a little murder thrown in where you don't expect it, but whatever it is it kept me enthralled from the first page.
Fast-paced and slightly claustrophobic due to the proximity of the victims, the caller, preys upon it's less a book about outright horror than creeping
Rebecca Martin
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was between a 4 and a 5 for me. It's very unusual, in that we are pretty sure from the outset who is behind the upsetting doings in the small Norwegian town. This book features the detective work of Inspector Sejer but it is really a character study and a study of human relationships. What small thing can tear a seemingly very happy nuclear family apart? What is most frightening to those who know they are near death by disease? How strong is the bond between humans and the animals in t ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read this while on vacation.

Great mystery for those who like to explore the characters and motivations and repercussions of the crime, rather than just figure out who did it.

Inspector Sejer is called in to investigate a series of what appear to be petty crimes - prank calls, fake obituaries, etc.

However, the events feel related and Fossum shows how each one - trivial as it may appear on the surface - affects the victims over time, messing with their heads and senses of self.

She also takes you in
Beth (bibliobeth)
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure about this book at first, it seemed a bit saccharin-sweet at times (perhaps something lost in translation?). However, about halfway through, I really started to enjoy the story. We are aware of who the perp is from the beginning which I found interesting as we were able to assess his character in more detail. Great ending as well - I won't spoil it but you have to read it to see what I mean.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another absolute winner from Karin Fossum. I am so happy I didn't wait for its' US release date! I did end up giving this book 4 stars which is pretty uncommon for me with this author's books because it seemed to come off a tad more disjointed than what others in the Ins. Sejer series have. Still very much worth the read though!!
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Karin Fossum (née Mathisen) 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 translate ...more

Other books in the series

Konrad Sejer (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Evas öga (Konrad Sejer, #1)
  • Don't Look Back (Konrad Sejer #2)
  • He Who Fears the Wolf (Konrad Sejer, #3)
  • When the Devil Holds the Candle (Konrad Sejer, #4)
  • The Indian Bride (Konrad Sejer, #5)
  • Black Seconds (Konrad Sejer, #6)
  • Mordet på Harriet Krohn (Konrad Sejer, #7)
  • The Water's Edge (Konrad Sejer, #8)
  • Bad Intentions (Konrad Sejer, #9)
  • The Drowned Boy (Konrad Sejer, #11)

News & Interviews

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“Why did criminals have so many rights? Why were they entitled to respect and understanding? Had they not acted so unlawfully that these rights should be stripped from them?” 3 likes
“If you like someone, you’ll believe anything they say,” Matteus said. “Think about that for a while. When you sit in your office talking to Johnny Beskow.” 1 likes
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