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In Norwegian author Karin Fossum’s He Who Fears the Wolf, Inspector Sejer is hard at work again. A young boy discovers the body of an old woman, and tells the inspector he saw the local misfit Errki Johrma hidden at the edge of the trees by her farmhouse. The next morning, Inspector Sejer is faced with another crime - a local bank is robbed at gunpoint and the robber flees with a hostage into the woods. Meanwhile, Sejer continues the search for the killer and all fingers point to Errki but one: his psychiatrist refuses to believe he could have committed such an act. From the deeply sympathetic Inspector Sejer to the social outcast Errki and the bank robber who is thoroughly unsuited to his profession, Fossum writes from inside the minds of her characters but never gives too much away.

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Dr. Judy Ustina
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As this book opens you get inside of Errki's head immediately with no distinction between fantasy and reality. Errki's delusions are so real that it gives you a feeling of what it's like to be inside a schizophrenic's head. The portrayal of Errki was bang-on. I was really impressed with Fossum's skill as a writer to bring schizophrenia into reality and make it very sympathetic, which it is.

The number of schizophrenics who commit violent crimes is very small relative to the general population. It's just that when they do, it's sensationalized and so we hear about it more. Fossum did her research very well in that she portrays Errki as being very disturbed, very ill, but non-violent except when cornered. Fossum understands schizophrenic illness very well, in that it's not a trick she's playing, not something to draw the audience in. It's part of his character, who he is, and she really does a wonderful job of making his illness accessible.

I thought that the book reflected society in both cases, like the understanding and compassionate police service, and the avoidance and tolerance of mental illness, like the store clerk allowing Errki to steal chocolate bars.

Every character in the book had a story to tell, and resonated in a likeable way. Even if you disliked them in the beginning, as they were each revealed you began to really like them. You understand they have their own reasons for being. I love books that create a deeper understanding of the psyche and this one definitely did. We're all alone, but we're not so different from one another.

Other reviews by Dr. Judy Ustina:
Blood Memory