BAD INTENTIONS by Karin Fossum

Book Quote:

“How quickly it can change, the life we think has been marked out for us. We start the journey with good intentions, the gift our parents bequeathed us. And then, someone snaps their fingers and we find ourselves sidetracked; we end up in a foreign country.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky AUG 10, 2011)

Karin Fossum’s Bad Intentions is about three friends, now in their twenties, who have known each other since they were six. On the surface, Axel Frimann is by far the most successful. He is well-spoken, good-looking, nicely dressed, and drives a Mercedes; his job at an advertising agency pays well. Philip Reilly, on the other hand, is disheveled, has long, stringy hair (“he looked like a troll from a fairy tale”), and spends a portion of his small salary as a hospital porter getting high. The third member of the trio is Jon Moreno.

As the story opens, Jon is with his two buddies at a cabin near a lake ominously called “Dead Water.” Reilly and Frimann have taken Jon out of the hospital ward where he is being treated for depression and anxiety; the doctors hope that the change of scenery will speed Jon’s recovery.

The three men share a dark secret, one that would land them in deep trouble if it came to light. Their transgression preys on Reilly and Moreno, while Frimann’s chief concern is how to keep his pals from blabbing and ruining his life. The dynamics of control—self-control and the control of others—drives the story. Some men are leaders and others are followers. For certain individuals, it is easier to let someone else make the decisions than it is to take a stand. Fossum is keenly aware that any of us, in certain circumstances, can do something that we will forever regret. Certain people rationalize their actions and blithely carry on as if nothing has happened, while those who possess a sense of morality may become mired in guilt. They can escape only when they unburden themselves and try to atone.

Inspector Konrad Sejer and Jakob Skarre are called in when one of the men goes missing. Sejer interviews the victim’s family and acquaintances, but although he has his suspicions, he has little hard evidence to go on. The inspector thinks, “I’ve developed a profound skepticism and it follows me everywhere. I don’t trust anyone.” When another body turns up, Sejer’s suspicions deepen, and soon matters come to a head in an unexpected manner.

Karin Fossum demonstrates that justice comes in many forms and is often meted out in unlikely ways. In addition, she poignantly touches on how two grieving mothers find a measure of consolation after they lose their beloved children. Bad Intentions, translated capably from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund, is a subtle and heartbreaking tale of psychological suspense in which Fossum explores not only the nature of good and evil, but also the power of guilt to insidiously destroy a person from within.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 36 readers
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (August 9, 2011)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Karin Fossum
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:



The Inspector Sejer & Inspector Jakob Skarre Series:


  • The House of the Insane (1999)
  • The Nightmare of November 4th (2004)
  • Broken (2006; August 2010 in US)
  • The House of Fools (2008)

August 10, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Norway, Psychological Suspense, Sleuths Series, Translated, y Award Winning Author

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