Whitley Bay Book Group – January 2022

The Caller by Karin Fossum

This month we read The Caller by award winning Norwegian crime fiction writer Karin Fossum, in which her detective Inspector Sejer investigates a series of macabre pranks which escalate to something more deadly. One of the group mistakenly read Calling out for You by the same author, but managed to join in the discussion nevertheless.

We were less than enthusiastic about this book, awarding star ratings of between 1 and 3. We found the language clunky, which may have been the fault of the translation. The metaphor of one of the characters being poked with a fork will not leave us any time soon.

The detectives did not initially seem to do much investigation. This could be partly because the incidents described in the first half of the book were unpleasant practical jokes rather than crimes, and as such would not be prioritised. Although some of us felt the characters to be rather two-dimensional, and the story did not engage some people, the psychological effect of the pranks on the victims was well described, as was the relationship between Johnny and his grandfather.

We were divided on whether we liked the ambiguity of the ending. The author does not spell out who let the dogs out, and the death at the end of the book is left unexplained.

At this month’s meeting we also decided on the next set of books for March to October 2022, which are:

Wed 09-Mar-22 Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Wed 13-Apr-22 House of Glass by Hadley Freeman
Wed 11-May-22 Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell
Wed 08-Jun-22 Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Wed 13-Jul-22 The louder I will Sing by Lee Lawrence
Wed 14-Sep-22 Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Wed 12-Oct-22 A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles