The more I read of this author, the more I get frustrated with her adherence to a formula in writing her novels. Don’t get me wrong; this is a finely crafted book, with many of the best ingredients. However, it has the same structure as the last few I remember reading: modern chapter followed by flashback chapter. The modern chapters are about the current crime. The flashback chapters are about the back story and a terrible, hidden secret – there’s always a terrible hidden secret – that is slowly, slowly revealed. And, inevitably, there’s a connection – typically familial – between the people in the flashback chapters and the contemporary chapters. Sometimes, that formula takes the shine off the writing. And the writing, on the whole, is good. There are a few instances where the author does more tell than show, but these are not overwhelming.
OK, so with the disappointment out the way, here’s the upside.
This is another piece of Swedish crime fiction, featuring Detective Patrick Hedstrom and his loose cannon writer of a wife (at least partly, presumably, being a reflection of the author) Erica. The historical background is that in 1974, a family disappeared from their home-cum-boarding-school on an island off the Swedish coast. The boys at the school were out fishing, and returned to an empty place, and raised the alarm. The one year old daughter of the family (Ebba) is left. There are no bodies, no clues, and no explanations
Now, after suffering the tragic loss of her own child, Ebba and her husband return to that place, having bought it and seeking to make a fresh start. Things happen. Bad things…
This is a well constructed, well researched, well presented crime book. All fans of the genre will enjoy it. Her fans will rave, but truly it is good rather than great. It won’t stop me reading more by the same author. Maybe the structure will change. Maybe I won’t notice, or care.