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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 5 May 2014
Couldn't put this down it is the first by this author but I will be reading the others twists and turns to the story all the way through and when you think you know what is going to happen it all changes
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on 9 May 2016
Love this author, well worth reading the whole series
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on 12 October 2016
Good read
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on 21 December 2013
Five star excellent read second book I have read from this author and now I'm going to read another have to get started on it now
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on 11 June 2015
Great read I do like the Swedish writers.
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on 8 September 2017
I am totally hooked on this authors books and have now read all 5 in the series.
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on 29 August 2017
Another great book by Ohlsson
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 May 2015
Even within the ranks of Scandinavian crime procedural novels, the investigators in a unit charged with solving unusual and difficult murders around Detective Superintendent Alex Recht are a psychologically-damaged lot. This 2010 novel, translated by Sarah Death [congratulations to Simon & Schuster UK for describing her background together with that of the author], is an excellent example of the genre.

Recht himself has marital problems, DI Peder Rydh has walked out on his family and has workplace equality and anger management issues, civilian Investigative Analyst Frederika Bergman is expecting a baby at any time with her married but aged lover, Franklin Lagergren, and Joar Sahlin, temporarily seconded to the team as p/t cover for Frederika, is not easy to warm to and he may be gay…… Moreover, Frederika was a promising violinist until she seriously damaged her arm in an accident that killed her mother and Peder has a mentally-disabled brother.

The prelude describes an unreported attack on a young girl on Midsummer’s Eve, 1993, whilst the early chapters describe the killing/suicide of a charismatic priest and his wife in their Stockholm flat, an unidentified man killed in a hit-and-run accident, a young Swedish woman in trouble in Bangkok and the arrival of a young Iraqi illegal immigrant in Sweden. The events of these story are followed over less than a fortnight in February-March, 2008.

In over 450 pages the personal problems of the police team are eventually revealed and dealt with, although that of Recht and his wife is agonisingly drawn out since, in contrast to his police work, he avoids facing a difficult issue. Peder’s dramatic change of attitude and behavior in the later part of the book also seemed somewhat unlikely. The interactions, mistrusts and misconceptions within the police team are nicely drawn as is Recht’s constant worry about Frederika’s health and how best to get the best out of his team, whose future is under consideration. Sahlin and Peder offer an enjoyable foil to one another.

There are a bevy of additional characters, priests, daughters, a scarred policeman, several drug addicts and the plotting includes additional murders, identity theft, Right-wing extremists, robberies, people-trafficking and other misdemeanors. There are a great many twists and, as one might expect, the social and moral issues of the stories are all realistically presented.

Since the author describes the backgrounds of the central characters, the book may be read as a stand-alone and the ending of the book describes three significant events that will, no doubt, affect the relevant characters in the next book.

The plot is complex and unbelievable but the writing, and the excellent English translation, fully engages the reader. There are some memorable scenes, a tense dinner where Franklin, Frederika and her family get to know one another [rather difficult since he has no intention of leaving his wife of over 30 years], Peder’s attitude toward the Head of HR and the compulsory gender awareness course that he is subsequently sent on, and the tense interactions of members of the team during formal and informal interviews. The storyline in Bangkok seems less well grounded and the likelihood of a people trafficker risking all to help a stranded European woman seemed unlikely.

Peder comes across as the most complex character – for his outrageous behavior, utter selfishness, competitive instincts and caring attitude to his brother. Once again it was difficult to understand the attraction between Frederika and Franklin, whilst for a very savvy investigator, she seemed to have little idea of what raising a child largely on her own would involve.

Ohlsson’s background as a Security Policy Analyst for the Swedish Police Board and at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is evident in the detail that she presents and, despite the overly-complex storyline and rather too-tidy confessional scene, this is a very enjoyable read.
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The cover of Silenced has a sticker on it that boldly proclaims "For fans of The Killing". I've seen the television series and now that I've read the book, and had a good think about it, I'm inclined to agree. Both stories feature strong heroines who are outwardly tough but also exhibit an emotionally fragility. There are other similarities as well - both cover events in real time and focus quite heavily on the procedural components.

Ohlsson spends the time fleshing out the character of the various investigators. I particularly liked Peder Rydh specifically because he almost like a petulant child trapped in a grown-up's body, good at police work but a spectacular failure at almost everything else. Nice to find a character in a novel that has such obvious failings. He is not prefect by any stretch of the imagination, is jealous of colleagues, throws the occasional strop and his attitude towards female co-workers is terrible. That said, all these faults make him all the more interesting to read. As the plot unfolds you get to learn exactly what makes all the team tick and there is valuable insight into their home lives. These aren't just police men and women, they are people too. It's probably fair comment that some may find this depth of detail too much or potentially distracting, but personally I felt it gave the story much needed human element. It helps to better understand various character motivations and makes them all seem that much more real.

Like the other experiences I've had with Scandinavian literature, Silenced starts off very small but quickly builds into something that manages to be thoroughly engrossing. I can understand why literature from this part of the world is gaining popularity here in the United Kingdom, I've not read a bad example yet. The likes of The Killing and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo have become a bona fide cultural phenomena and I don't see why Silenced can't follow suit. I'd certainly be interested in reading more novels featuring the same characters.

Ohlsson also manages to blend in elements from the political thriller genre into the mix. There are key scenes that take place abroad and some subtle social commentary regarding Swedish immigration policy. There are hints dotted throughout the narrative that there is something much larger going on and that the crimes are the tip of the iceberg but it is only toward the end of the story that all is revealed. These unexpected but welcome inclusions help to strengthen an already intriguing story. The skillful way that the seemingly disparate story threads eventually begin to weave together is very effective, and works well. The final revelations lead to a satisfying twisted conclusion.

If you like the sound of Silenced you may be interested to know that I've just had a little rummage around on Amazon and it appears Kristina Olhsson already has another title released, Unwanted. This is a prequel to the events in Silenced and features some of the same characters. I think I may have to add it to my to read list.
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on 6 April 2014
This book is a little better than Unwanted but only because KO has tried to be a little more adventurous and imaginative. Other reviewers have already given a synopsis of the novel so I will give my reasons for not being too impressed. For a special pólice unit the officers seem none too bright and prefer to take the obvious answer to any question put to them. The Thailand connection implies something bigger and more sinister than turns out to be the case. Were I a Swedish national I would be appalled at the treatment given to the poor woman by the embassy official in Bangkok. The characters in the unit are too easily distracted by their personal lives, even Alex Recht, "the legend", as he was described in Unwanted. In modern crime fiction background information of the main characters seems to have become more important than the plot, KO seems to be taking this to Patricia Cornwell levels. Not one of the team has the home life of our own dear Wycliffe, Barnaby, Thanet et al. I have read that a film production company has secured the rights for the three novels. Perhaps KO can now concéntrate on writing scripts for a daytime tv soap. KO could do so much better. I shall read the next book and just hope that the unit has either been disbanded or that the three stars have come to their senses.
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