Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum, Review: Chilling psychology

In Karin Fossum’s Bad Intentions the bone chilling bleakness and tension forces you to question the meaning of guilt. Read our review.

Bad Intentions Synopsis

Bad Intentions Karin Fossum Review

In Bad Intentions, the newest installment in Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer series since The Water’s Edge in 2009, Konrad Sejer must face down his memories and fears as he struggles to determine why the corpses of troubled young men keep surfacing in local lakes.

The first victim, Jon Moreno, was getting better. His psychiatrist said so, and so did his new friend at the hospital, Molly Gram, with her little-girl-lost looks. He was racked by a mysterious guilt that had driven him to a nervous breakdown one year earlier. But when he drowns in Dead Water Lake, Sejer hesitates to call it a suicide.

Then another corpse is found in a lake, a Vietnamese immigrant. And Sejer begins to feel his age weigh on him. Does he still have the strength to pursue the elusive explanations for human evil?

Translated by Charlotte Barslund

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Many parallels are made between the work of Karin Fossum ‘the Norwegian queen of crime’ and Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. While I wouldn’t say that this novel Bad Intentions quite reaches those dizzying heights, it is quality Scandinavian crime fiction nonetheless.

At less than 200 pages Karin Fossum’s Bad Intentions is less of your typical ‘who-dunnit’ novel and more of an exploration of the differing psyches of those that are ‘hunted’ by the police.

For that reason the reader spends most time in the minds of the suspects and surprisingly little in those of Inspector Sejer and his colleague Skarre.  As I have not read the preceding six novels in the Inspector Sejer series I am unable to say whether this is a new thing for Fossum.

Despite the little time spent with Sejer and Skarre, the glimpses of these characters personalities we do see sparked my interest for more.

They got their coats and Skarre fished out a jelly baby from a bag. “I used to like the green ones best,” he said, “but now I prefer the orange ones.”

Sejer watched him as he munched the small gelatinous figure. “I imagine they all taste the same,” he declared, “but, of course, you expect something different from a red jelly baby and a yellow one.” This statement made Skarre peer into the bag with a worried expression.

Despite the plot differing from my original expectations, Fossum’s telling of this story had me riveted. This is a very sad and moving tale with karma apportioned in realistic quantities, unlike many works in the genre.

The bone chilling bleakness and unending  tension in Bad Intentions really forces you to question the meaning of guilt and the ramifications of split second decisions. The ultimate message – we can often be our own worst enemies.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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Genre: Crime-Detective, Thriller, Mystery

About the Author, Karin Fossum

Karin Fossum is the author of the internationally successful Inspector Konrad Sejer crime series set in her home country Norway. Her recent honors include a Gumshoe Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for mystery/thriller.

I received this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (via for review. My receiving this book for free in no way affected my ability to express my honest opinions about it.