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Book Review: He Who Fears the Wolf

He Who Fears the Wolf
by Karin Fossum
1997

An elderly woman is found brutally murdered at her isolated house in the woods. The prime suspect is Errki, a loner who has just escaped from a mental asylum. Kannick, a 12-year-old boy, reports that he saw Errki in the vicinity soon after the murder. But is Kannick a credible witness? He lives in a home for delinquent boys.

After his escape, Errki goes into town and enters a bank where a robbery is in progress. The robber is a demented young man named Morgan who takes Errki hostage as he leaves the bank. The two end up in a vacant house in the woods not far from the murder scene. The situation is very tense as they warily try to understand each other and attempt to form an uneasy alliance in order to elude detection.

Meanwhile, the serious and compassionate Inspector Sejer pursues the case, trying to locate Errki and the bank robber, at first not realizing that they are together.

A comment on the book jacket sums up the essence of this fascinating book: “Fossum once again provides extraordinary insight into marginalized lives and richly evokes the atmosphere she captured so brilliantly in Don’t Look Back.

Happily, Fossum’s novels are becoming popular with American readers, and they will undoubtedly continue to be translated into English.  He Who Fears the Wolf is definitely a good read!

- Review by Christine Foster Meloni