Top positive review
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A captivating and atmospheric Swedish crime story that is not particularly gruesome.
on 31 July 2017
This is the first Camilla Lackberg book I have read. Overall I enjoyed the story and found it not as gruesome as some other Swedish / Scandinavian crime stories I have read but I found some aspects of it irritating and a little unbelievable.
The story opens in winter with the discovery of the frozen body of a woman in the bath of her unheated house in the small fishing village of Fjällbacka, on the west coast of Sweden. Was it a suicide or was it murder?
We encounter quite a large number of characters quite early in the story and I found it necessary to create a list to help me keep track of who was who. This later proved very useful as the various threads of the story converged.
I did not find this book a particularly quick read. This was in part because the chapters are very long and within each chapter one has to keep track of a number of different threads to the story in case they are central to solving the crime.
The story spends some time relating the back story of the main characters, most of whom are quite plausible. However, I felt Superintendent Bertil Mellberg was rather cartoonish and I found the behaviour of its two main characters Erica Falck and Patrik Hedström at times quite mindboggling.
Another aspect I found irritating was the way the author would reveal the discovery of a clue but not tell you what the actual clue was until later in the story. As a budding armchair detective, I found this delay in revealing ‘evidence’ exasperating.
On the other hand, there are a number of positive aspects to this novel. The setting is very atmospheric, centring on location and time of year. The exploration of a number of different aspects of human behaviour covered in the story (such as family relationships, the importance of propriety in small communities, alcoholism, paedophilia, loneliness and romance) provide essential and interesting dimensions to the story.
If you enjoy police procedural novels then this story may disappoint as it does not really focus on how the police conduct their investigations. If you like fast paced, action stories then this story will fall short of expectations. However, if you enjoy atmospheric crime stories with a focus on the everyday lives of its characters and uncovering why people act the way they do, then you will probably find this story quite captivating, as I did.