In the fishing community of Fjallbacka, life is remote, peaceful — and for some, tragically short. Foul play was always suspected in the disappearance twenty years ago of two young holidaymakers in the area. Now a young boy out playing has confirmed this grim truth. Their remains, discovered with those of a fresh victim, send the town into shock. Local detective Patrik Hedstrom, expecting a baby with his girlfriend Erica, can only imagine what it is like to lose a child. When a second young girl goes missing, Hedstrom’s attention focuses on the Hults, a feuding clan of misfits, religious fanatics and criminals. The suspect list is long but time is short — which of this family’s dark secrets will provide the vital clue?
And dark secrets there are. Who would torture two young girls and then reappear 24 years later to commit the same crimes again. It can’t be a copycat as their bodies weren’t found until now, can it?
Things have moved on from The Ice Princess. And it’s not much of a spoiler to say that Erica and Patrik are expecting a child.
This is quite a neat trick on Läckberg’s part. It means that this book focuses more on Patrick and his more official investigations. Though Erica not only gives vital information but also a grounding and a humour that European crime seems so good at providing.
Läckberg’s again focuses on families but this time it’s two warning brother. One who is found dead after being accused of the murders twenty odd years ago, leaving his sons and wife in a run down farm, and the other who inherited their fathers farm and fortune and doesn’t like this ordered and balanced world disturbed.
But what’s makes Läckberg’s stories interesting is how many heads she shines a light in. She shows us the characters from the inside and out and the reader is left to puzzle out the truth of what they’ve seen and heard.
We also get to see the not only the lives that the investigation touches but also the lives of the police detectives. Some of whom are far from endearing but their characters mean that it’s quite insightful, if frustrating for Patrik and his investigation, to be with them for a while.
There is some great moments of humour especially involving uninvited guests and guests that aren’t what you expected.
We also get to see more of Erica’s sister Anna and her struggles to free herself from the control of her children. It’s upsetting to read as you can see why she does what she does as if she has no choice. I at least wanted to shout and scream to make her see sense but I think more than that she needs a knight to take her away and make her feel safe.
The crime element is well done and the investigation that upsets both families as it delves deeper in to the events surrounding the earlier murders pulls out quite a few secrets that you know they’d rather left buried.
I’m very much looking forward to The Stone-Cutter.
Läckberg is fast becoming another favourite Eurocrime writer. Her sly sense of humour combined with her willingness to let the reader se her characters have lives around the story is making it feel like seeing growing family.
And it will, at least for Erica and Patrik.