Book #81 was Broken by Karin Fossum. The back of the book reads:
A woman wakes up in the middle of the night. A strange man is in her bedroom. She lies there in silence, paralyzed with fear.The woman is an author and the man one of her characters, one in a long line that waits in her driveway for the time when sheâ€™ll tell their stories. He is so desperate that he has resorted to breaking into her house and demanding that she begin. He, the author decides, is named Alvar Eide, forty-two years old, single,works in a gallery. He lives a quiet, orderly life and likes it that wayâ€”no demands, no unpleasantness. Until one icy winter day when a young drug addict, skinny and fragile, walks into the gallery. Alvar gives her a cup of coffee to warm her up. And then one day she appears on his doorstep. Broken is an unconventional, subtle, and disturbing mystery from a master of the form.
I loved Fossum’s Black Seconds, so I expected to like this by default. The book’s concept, that a character is harassing the author to write about him and must face the story she presents to him, is definitely a bit indulgent. It feels like something she wrote while stuck on another project, something that probably should never have been published. But that wasn’t my problem with it. The main character, Alvar, is at first intrigued by the young, drug-addicted waif that wanders into the gallery where he works. Later, she just takes advantage of him.
Here is where I confess that I only made it about 3/4 of the way through the book and have no idea what happened in the end, because the more she pushed him and took advantage of him and the more he found himself unable to say no to her, the more uncomfortable it made me feel. Real, deep in my chest, bordering on anxiety uncomfortable. I guess you could consider it a plus that the author was able to invoke those sorts of feelings in me, but it really just meant that I had to put down the book. Maybe it all turned out okay in the end, and everyone got their due — I just don’t know. I’ll definitely continue to read Fossum’s Inspector Sejer series, but I’ll have to give anything like this a pass.
This book was a review copy.
Page count: 272 | Approximate word count: 81,600