Review: The Indian Bride (aka Calling Out for You) by Karin Fossum

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008. Kindle edition. 854 KB. Translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund (2005). Original title: Elskede Poona (2000). First published in Great Britain as Calling Out for You (2005). eISBN: 978-0-547-54079-5. ASIN: B004X7QMM6. 305 pages.

Calling Out for You (aka The Indian Bride in the US), is the fifth book in a series featuring Inspector Sejer and his deputy Jakob Skarre and was originally published in 2000. So far I have read Don’t Look Back (1996), He Who Fears the Wolf (1997), Bad Intentions (2008) and The Caller (2009). In brackets the year of publication.

The action takes place in a small Norwegian village called Elvestad of 2,347 inhabitants where Gunder Jomann lives. It all begins the day that Gunder, a middle age bachelor, decides to fly to India with the intention of finding a wife. Gunder is a honest man although, to put it mildly, not overly bright. Up to that moment he is leading a lonely and uninteresting life. He came up with this idea leafing through the pages of a book, People of All Nations, that his sister gave him on his fifty-one birthday.

Without a second thought, Gunder flies to Mumbai. In less than a fortnight he meets Poona Bai, the waitress that generally serves him, and she accepts to marry him. After the wedding, Gunder has to return alone to Norway, Poona will follow him within a few days. The planned date of her arrival, Marie, Gunder’s sister, has a car accident and is taken in coma to the hospital. Gunder decides to stay with his sister and sends a taxi to the airport to pick up his wife but the taxi driver can’t find her, Poona has disappeared. The next day the body of a woman has appeared in a field close to Elvestad with her head smashed up to the bones. She seems foreigner for her clothing, most probably from Pakistan or India. Inspector Konrad Sejer and his deputy Jakob Skarre are in charge of carrying out this investigation.    

It is interesting to note that Fossum’s books, at least in this series, are crime novels quite unconventional. She places the emphasis on the consequences that some trivial events may have on our lives and in the live of others around us. To this end, she is able to develop a particular atmosphere that can become frightening, using only elements taken from our daily lives. In this story in particular, Fossum provides us with a vivid portrait of life in a small village, where everyone knows everyone else, and where no one wants to talk to avoid causing an irreparable damage to a neighbour. It’s quite possible that we can find some elements in the story rather unrealistic but, in my view, they become credible, in this context. Finally I would also like to highlight its open ending, where the doubt of what has really happened will remain with us. An interesting addition to the series and a quite satisfactory reading in my opinion.

My rating: B (I really liked it)

In 2000 Elskede Poona won the Brage Prize awarded by the Norwegian Book foundation in the category Open Class, Calling Out for You was shortlisted for the 2005 CWA Gold Dagger award and The Indian Bride won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the category Mystery/Thriller in 2007.

Calling Out For You has been reviewed at Euro Crime (Karen), Euro Crime (Maxine), Reviewing the evidence (Sharon Wheeler), Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog (Keishon), among others.  

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Vintage Books 

A guide to Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer

Una mujer en tu camino de Karin Fossum

Una mujer en tu camino (Inspector Sejer, 8) (Karin Fossum)

Una mujer en tu camino es el quinto libro de una serie protagonizada por el inspector Sejer y su adjunto Jakob Skarre y fue publicado originalmente en el 2000. Hasta ahora he leído No mires atrás (1996), Quien teme al lobo (1997), Mala voluntad (2008) y Presagios (2009). Entre paréntesis el año de su publicación.

La acción se desarrolla en un pequeño pueblo noruego llamado Elvestad de 2.347 habitantes donde vive Gunder Jomann. Todo comienza el día en que Gunder, un soltero de mediana edad, decide volar a la India con la intención de encontrar una esposa. Gunder es un hombre honesto, aunque, por decirlo suavemente, no excesivamente espabilado. Hasta ese momento lleva una vida solitaria y poco interesante. Se le ocurrió esta idea hojeando las páginas de un libro, Gente de todas las naciones, que su hermana le regaló en su cincuenta y un cumpleaños.

Sin pensarlo dos veces, Gunder vuela a Mumbai. En menos de quince días se encuentra con Poona Bai, la camarera que por lo general le sirve, y acepta casarse con él. Después de la boda, Gunder tiene que regresar solo a Noruega, Poona lo seguirá dentro de unos pocos días. La fecha prevista de su llegada, Marie, la hermana de Gunder, tiene un accidente de coche y es llevada en estado de coma al hospital. Gunder decide quedarse con su hermana y envía un taxi al aeropuerto a recoger a su esposa, pero el taxista no puede encontrarla, Poona ha desaparecido. Al día siguiente, el cuerpo de una mujer aparece en un campo cerca de Elvestad con la cabeza aplastada hasta los huesos. Por su ropa parece extranjera, muy probablemente de Pakistán o de la India. El inspector Konrad Sejer y su adjunto Jakob Skarre son los encargados de llevar a cabo esta investigación.

Es interesante destacar que los libros de Fossum, al menos los de esta serie, son novelas negras muy poco convencionales. Ella pone el énfasis en las consecuencias que algunos acontecimientos triviales pueden tener en nuestras vidas y en la vida de los que nos rodean. Con este fin, es capaz de desarrollar una atmósfera particular que puede convertirse en aterradora, utilizando sólo elementos tomados de la vida cotidiana. En esta historia en particular, Fossum nos ofrece un vivo retrato de la vida en un pequeño pueblo, donde todos se conocen, y en el que nadie quiere hablar para no causar un daño irreparable a un vecino. Es muy posible que podamos encontrar algunos elementos de la historia poco realistas pero, en mi opinión, se convierten en creíbles, en este contexto. Por último, me gustaría también destacar su final abierto, donde la duda de lo que realmente ha sucedido permanecerá con nosotros. Un interesante complemento en la serie y una lectura bastante satisfactoria en mi opinión.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)

En el 2000 Elskede Poona ganó el Premio Brage otorgado por la Fundación noruega del Libro en la categoría Open Class, Calling Out for You fue finalista del premio de la CWA Golden Dagger en el 2005, y The Indian Bride ganó el premio de Los Angeles Times Book en la categoría Mystery/Thriller en el 2007.

Artículo de Francisco Cenamor sobre la novela ‘Una mujer en tu camino’, de Karin Fossum

Otras reseñas en El blog de Welzen y Mis últimas lecturas


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7 thoughts on “Review: The Indian Bride (aka Calling Out for You) by Karin Fossum”

  1. José Ignacio – I’m glad you enjoyed this one. One of the things that struck me about this novel was the way Fossum built up the ‘insular small town’ atmosphere. I think that adds to the overall atmosphere of the novel. I think too that she does an excellent job of developing the characters so that, as you say, we can believe what they do. It is a sad story, but Fossum’s skill is that she conveys that without melodrama. An excellent review, for which thanks.

  2. MarinaSofia and Margot, thank you both for your comments. In my view, although a sad story, Fossum provides some elements that helps create some distance with the reader that seem borrowed from a fairy tale. Like the man who travels abroad in search of a wife. And thus the reader can pay more attention to other aspects, like the atmosphere of a close society for instance.

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