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

(Konrad Sejer #4)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,268 ratings  ·  375 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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 4th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  5,268 ratings  ·  375 reviews

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Start your review of When the Devil Holds the Candle (Konrad Sejer, #4)
Sep 24, 2008 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Deb Jones
I greatly enjoy Karin Fossum's writing and Konrad Sejer as her protagonist, but I was unable to finish this book due to the subject matter of torture. I couldn't endure reading about it, so have set this one aside. Undaunted, I look forward to her next book in this series.
David R. Dowdy
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I was totally surprised When the Devil Holds the Candle didn’t flow like Don’t Look Back, an Inspector Sejer police procedural, an investigation in progress. Fossum changed up and wrote a thriller in progress. And I’m glad she did, because sequels can become too predictable.

Fossum definitely knows twisted evil. I don’t mean she’s twisted or has first-hand experience in evil (does she?). What I mean is that she developed evil characters and, in a twist, put them at odds with each other.

Though we
Edmund Leow
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Angel 一匹狼
May 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A couple of teenage friends, Andreas and Zipp, are bored, without much to do. They go around bullying immigrants, stealing purses from women going on a stroll with their babies and breaking and entering in old ladies' houses. One of the last goes wrong and silly things start to happen. All the while the police and its detectives do nothing.

That is basically the plot of lame and silly "When the Devil Holds the Candle" a novel just because the cover says it is a novel. It is 230-pages-long of
Deborah Moulton
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
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,
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A cacophony of voices tell this story, some innocent, some perverted and the execution may have been successful in original language but definitely not in translation. Not for me. Just a taste: "My name is Irma. Now I'm the one who's doing the talking. I won't take much time, and I'm not saying that I have a monopoly on the truth. But what you're reading now is my version. A childhood memory comes back to me. I can summon it whenever I like...And I remember the feeling, a sweet pressure, like ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Douglas Cook
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 03, 2007 rated it liked it
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 ...more
laura m
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, translated
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 ...more
Vicki Renee
Mar 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not finish this mess of a book. I am going to give Fossum the benefit of the doubt and ASSUME that the terrible convoluted story line was due to massive editing errors. Literally from one sentence to the next paragraph, with no ellipses in between to alert you to a change in character, there would be a "new voice" a new point of view with NO IDEA who was "speaking." This happened so many times and it WAS SO DAMN CONFUSING!! One moment you're in Zipp's head and the next you think he is ...more
Joan Colby
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Doug Baird
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
While part of the Inspector Sejer series, Sejer and the police actually have a small role in the narrative. Instead this was more psychological suspense with an emphasis on characterizations. Dark, suspenseful, and, though very well written, quite disturbing.
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Lukasz Pruski
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
"He slipped his arm around her waist and held on tight, lifting her from the chair. She squealed with glee, but he noted with satisfaction the tiny hint of panic as he carried her across the room."

Karin Fossum, one of my most favorite writers manages to surprise me in three different ways with her When the Devil Holds the Candle (1998). First of all, I am surprised that this is again not a great book, not even - I am afraid - a very good one. It is far below the level of Ms. Fossum's best work
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is a strange one, for me. First, it's very interior, which I generally don't like in a mystery. Except this time I couldn't put it down. Second, it's creepy, very creepy. And yet, I couldn't put it down.

You know from the book description that two teens, Zipp--unemployed, not terribly bright, but sort of decent--and Andreas--attractive & charming, with an expectation that things will go his way--who are going not much of any where in life, liven up their evening by steeling a woman's
Steve Payne
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two teenage boys rob a new mother, then an older confused woman - but...

Another very good read from Fossum, in this, the fourth book in her Detective Sejer series. It's the getting into the mind of a character that I always love with Fossum's books, and here, being that the character is a confused and frightened older woman, she is often prone to rantings and ravings. There are echoes of this in her later book 'The Whisperer.'

As with many of the books in this series, and unlike many other
Ana María
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-translation
"Does it emerge over a period of years? Does a crime lie dormant in the body’s individual coding? Is murder a result of a long, inevitable process? From now on, I will have to view my life in the light of the horrible thing that happened, and to view that horrible thing in the light of what has been my life. That is what everyone around me will do. They’ll look into my past life for something that might explain whatever part of it can be explained. The rest will be left to float in a gray sea of ...more
Rachel Hall
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a devotee to Chief Inspector Konrad Sejer and a sucker for the marginalised outsiders who proliferate the novels of Karin Fossum, this book had my name written all over it! When the Devil Holds the Candle is the third outing to be translated into English featuring the combination of compassionate Konrad Sejer and his eager and intuitive sidekick, Jacob Skarre. Although this case takes a good few chapters to unravel and its direction to become clear, it swiftly builds into an compelling ...more
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 02, 2012 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
Feb 09, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would really like to give it 4.5 stars. Yes, it is rather "dark," but aren't most murder mysteries? Some reviews complain that Konrad Sejer doesn't show up enough, and that there is no mystery to the story since we know "who done it," but that didn't spoil the novel for me. I quite enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone. I look forward to another in the series.
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really absorbing book. Not so much a detective stoyy but a story of humans in need, in distress, in dire straits and in extraordinary circumstances. It is a story that grips you with it's levels of needs, fears, desires, loves, hates, and above all loneliness and isolation. Great read
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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 ...more

Other books in the series

Konrad Sejer (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Evas öga (Konrad Sejer, #1)
  • Don't Look Back (Konrad Sejer, #2)
  • He Who Fears the Wolf (Konrad Sejer, #3)
  • 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 Caller (Konrad Sejer, #10)
  • The Drowned Boy (Konrad Sejer, #11)
“If we don't believe in the Devil, we won't be able to recognize him when he suddenly shows up.” 10 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.” 4 likes
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