The Stranger – Camilla Lackberg

Setting: Tanumshede,  (or is it Tanum?) Sweden.

Story: The police are called to the scene of a car crash, where the driver is found dead. But the teetotal driver’s blood shows high levels of alcohol, and other forensic clues suggest it was no accident. Enter Detective Patrik Hedstrom, who has to try and solve the crime at the same time the media circus arrives following a reality-TV show setting up in their town. If that wasn’t enough, more murder and mayhem is on the way, including the possibility of a serial killer being on the scene.

Good Stuff: The plot jogs along quite merrily, doing what it has to do. The backdrop is interesting, and the reality TV material all too authentic. They mystery of whodunnit is well handled.

Not So Good Stuff: In the plot there is a struggle by the police to link the victims; what was the connection? But when the connection is disclosed, most readers will find it beyond belief that this did not show up at the first time of inspection. Weak. Also, the structure overwhelms the book. In other words, Lackberg’s standard – too standard, perhaps – twin tale construct of a peek into the past, and then a return to the present day action, works. But there’s not much more to the book. The characterization was not as sharp nor as interesting as before. This was the most disappointing of her output I have so far read.

Score: 6.5/10