Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Girl in the Woods – Camilla Läckberg

Crime Fiction
4*s

Camilla Läckberg has provided this reader with another meaty read in this the tenth in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck. This story is lengthy and involved. Readers won’t be able to stop themselves remembering some real-life crimes, especially those involving child-killers with the most obvious inspiration being drawn from Anne Perry and her friend Pauline Rieper, not a comfortable subject at all.

The main story is that set in the present day of the disappearance of four-year old Nea Berg from the same farm that another four-year old child went missing from thirty years before. Then Marie and her best friend Helen were accused of murder at the tender age of just thirteen. This is therefore in true Camilla Läckberg style a crime in the past with parallels in the present.

What makes the disappearance of Nea Berg all the more chilling is that Marie Wall had returned to Fjällbacka in her role as Ingrid Bergman in a new film. Marie had used the crime she was accused of thirty years ago to help propel her into Hollywood stardom, and it had worked but she had not set foot back in the small Swedish town since she left all those years before. Helen meanwhile had married a local man aged eighteen and lived a quiet life now mother to a teenage son she is fearful that Marie’s return will encourage the story to come to life again.

The chapters each cover many viewpoints each including scenes at the police station as our old favourites interview witnesses, pour over forensic reports and the ever dependable station chief Bertil Mellberg gives television interviews and interferes in Patrik Hedström’s handling of the case. As always it was great to catch up with everyone in Fjällbacka’s Police force and it does provide some much needed light relief in this dark and disturbing tale.

Erica already had a book in the pipeline about Stella Strand and her two accused killers and so when parallels are drawn between the crimes she is on hand with her notes so far, and the interviews she continues to hold with key people from the time.

Interspersed with the current investigations and happenings are chapters on The Stella Case giving the reader insights that haven’t necessarily been discovered, including those thoughts of the lead investigator. Intriguingly there is also a far older tale to be told that of Elin Jonsdotter in Bohuslän in 1671, what relevance this strand has remains a mystery for much of the book. If all that wasn’t enough the author includes another strand about Syrian refugees.

I enjoyed this greatly although I was reminded why I normally save these novels as holiday reads; The Girl in the Woods is a whopping 592 pages long and packed full of information which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to short bursts of reading. For the first time in this series I did have moments where I wondered if the author had been slightly over-ambitious in the amount of different strands that run through the book, not that it was confusing, far from it, but the read felt far darker overall than the previous books in the series, and they were hardly laugh a minute reads. However, if you are a fan, as I am, there is much to feast on not only while you are reading this book but there are bigger themes and philosophical questions to ponder long after you finish the last page.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to HarperCollins UK who allowed me to read advance copy of The Girl in the Woods before publication on 22 February 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 22 February 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages: 592
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Books in Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck series

The Ice Princess (2002)
The Preacher (2004)
The Stonecutter (2005)
The Gallows Bird (2006)
The Hidden Child (2007)
The Drowning (2008)
The Lost Boy (2013)
Buried Angels (2014)
The Ice Child (2016)

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

The Ice Child – Camilla Läckberg

Crime Fiction
4*s

The Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck series of which this is book 9, are set in the small fishing town of Fjällbacka are Scandi-noir books which whilst full of murder, fortunately from my point of view on the whole avoid the more stark violence of this genre’s reputation. Camilla Läckberg’s stories tend to link past crimes to a current investigation and The Ice Child is no different in that respect. Whilst Erica is writing another true-crime book about an infamous husband killer, Laila is in prison convicted but has steadfastly refused to talk about the crimes she has committed. Patrik is involved in the re-appearance of a teenage girl who went missing from a nearby riding stables four months ago. Tragically her surprise reappearance does not end well.

I think this is a series that to get the best from it, you need to have read the earlier books. The back-stories of the various police officers in Fjällbacka are ever-present as is that of Erica’s sister Anna who in short is forever facing some trauma or another. Luckily in this episode she is let off rather tamely with a fairly run of the mill relationship issue.

Interspersed between the back story of Erica’s visits to the prison to meet with Laila who frustratingly is still holding back on what happened decades before and the ongoing investigation into missing girls across Sweden are some excerpts of Laila’s thoughts. I do enjoy this kind of device where we the reader, get to know more about the crimes than the investigator. In this case in Camilla Läckberg’s recognisable style these short excerpts openly beg the reader to ask the questions which move the storyline along.

I started this post by saying on the whole the gruesome factor is lower down the scale than many in this genre, be warned though, this is no cosy mystery and there were some descriptions in both timelines that were shocking for the twisted thinking behind the crimes committed. It is no longer enough to simply be stabbed it would seem, now bodies must be mutilated, abuse must be extreme and everyone in the vicinity of a crime must be vigilant in case they are somehow caught up in the murderous spree. The latter certainly is part of what helps to keep the tension high in this book with the reader on the lookout not only for the killer but anxious about anyone who may fit the profile and with many scenes set at the riding stables there are a few to choose from.

I love the myriad of characters in these books, especially the interaction between the police and their trusty receptionist heart-warming, especially as some of them are seriously annoying, mentioning no names – Bertil, but they are a ‘work-family’ which add a lighter side to offset the horror in the past and the present.

It is relatively rarely that I get not only the name of the killer but the whydunit too but I did manage to outsmart the author this time getting full marks for both parts which in no way dented my enthusiasm for the book. As always I’m eagerly awaiting the next episode, The Girl in the Woods, which surely must be out soon?

The Ice Child was my twenty-sixth read in the Mount TBR challenge, having been purchased in November 2016.
mount-tbr-2017

 

 

First Published UK: 10 March 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
No. of Pages:  432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Books in Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck series

The Ice Princess (2002)
The Preacher (2004)
The Stonecutter (2005)
The Gallows Bird (2006)
The Hidden Child (2007)
The Drowning (2008)
The Lost Boy (2013)
Buried Angels (2014)

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

Buried Angels – Camilla Läckberg #20booksofsummer

Book 4

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

Well book 4 of my 20 Books of Summer 2016 challenge was another sure fire winner and another opportunity for me to catch up with a much admired and enjoyable series.

This is the eighth in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck series set in Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden and once again I was reminded quite why I love these tales which often link past crimes to present ones. The characters that I feel I have grown to know over the last few years, are all present in this novel and as well as being hooked by the plot I enjoyed catching up with the developments at Fjällbacka police station and of course their personal lives too.

In Buried Angels Erica is keen to find more about an old unsolved mystery where an entire family bar one year old Ebba disappeared from an island. The family was that of the resident headmaster Runes who had opened a school where strict discipline and outside activity to tame the teenage boys was the order of the day. Many of the boys came from wealthy families and Runes ruled both the school and his family; one that consisted of three children from his first marriage as well as his second wife Innes and their daughter Ebba.

Erica’s interest is reawakened when following a bereavement, Ebba moves back to the island to claim her inheritance with her husband Tobias. The pair set about carrying out a restoration project with the aim of opening up the property as a small hotel. Erica is excited about meeting Ebba, she’s sure she will welcome a book to reinvestigate what happened there all those years before but before she can arrange a meeting a fire breaks out on the island, and it looks like arson.

This story is also politically focused with a party called ‘Friends of Sweden’ featuring heavily the in the storyline. They are making moves to halt immigration into Sweden and the author paints a picture of this powerful group of people moving towards to making this a realty. But the past is never far away with some of the schoolchildren who attended Runes school back in 1974 now adults, included in this group is Jewish Josef, who is determined that the part Sweden played in World War Two is not forgotten and to ensure it isn’t, he is planning a new centre to hold all the evidence.

As well as these strands we also follow the life of Dagmar from the time she was a small child living in Fjällbacka in 1908. The first excerpt has her stood in a courtyard as the police arrived to arrest her parents. These short excerpts continue right up to the books conclusion, when their significance becomes clear.

You can always depend on Camilla Läckberg to pull many seemingly disparate strands of a story together and this book does this with dexterity as the past, present and the hopes for the future are gradually entwined closer together for the explosive finale.

The plot and pace are well-judged whereby the reader can absorb the details of the complex plot without feeling that the story drags at any point. Furthermore once again the translator, Tina Nunnally has done a fantastic job so that except for the names, I would never have realised I was reading a book not originally written in English.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Lost Boy – Camilla Läckberg

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction
4*’s

The Lost Boy is the seventh book in this series by Camilla Läckberg featuring Patrik Hedström and his writer wife Erica Falck.

Erica has now had her twins after the cliff-hanger of The Drowning when Patrick is called to investigate a shooting. A man named Mats Sverin has been found shot in the back of the head yet early signs show him to have been well respected. Mats had recently returned to Fjällbacka, a coastal fishing village in Sweden, and the detectives working with Patrick wonder if the clues to his killing lie with secrets from his past.

Alongside this murder to solve there is the parallel tale of Graskar, known by the locals as Ghost Isle. The legend is set in the 1870’s. These interwoven excerpts detail one woman’s life as the wife as a lighthouse keeper there but the legend of the island lives on to the current times. Is it a coincidence that Nathalie who was Mats childhood sweetheart has returned to take up residence on Ghost Isle?

Camilla Läckberg’s books have some great characters with plenty to appreciate in the villager’s personal lives as well as the central murder. Although I wouldn’t say this was the best book in the series it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The previous books in this series are

The Ice Princess
The Preacher
The Stonecutter
The Stranger
The Hidden Child
The Drowning

Each book can be read as a stand-alone, I actually started with The Hidden Child which was a fantastic read, but to understand all the relationships between the villagers and the police, they are much better read in sequence.

Click the book cover to read my review of The Stonecutter

The Stonecutter

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Stonecutter – Camilla Läckberg

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction
4*’s

The Stonecutter is the third in the Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck series which began with The Ice Princess (Patrick Hedstrom and Erica Falck, Book 1) and followed up by The Preacher (Patrick Hedstrom and Erica Falck, Book 2) Patrick takes the lead when the young daughter of a friend of Erica’s is found drowned, with accusations flying around Fjallbacka about who has committed this terrible crime. Recently having had a baby girl, Maja, the crime resonates even more deeply with Patrick.

I enjoy these books but I am constantly astounded by the clues that are ignored by the Police, they may get a result but it does seem more by luck than judgement. The story is interspersed with another story set in the late 1920’s about a girl, Agnes growing up in Fjallbacka, it is obvious these two stories are linked but the how and why is revealed slowly.

The plot is good, the writing moves along at a speed although the translation has problems with tenses in places these are minor and didn’t spoil the writing for me. I didn’t find this one as much as a mystery as some of the others I have read (I have also read books 5 & 6) but this one is still well worth a read.