Unwanted – Kristina Ohlsson

I read this, the first of the series by the author, to fill in the gaps. As a debut novel – a police procedural with new characters to introduce to the world – I found it a strange mix.

For example, too much of the characterization was, to put it bluntly, boring. Too much tell, and not enough show.

As another example, I had worked out the missing link in the mystery in 5 seconds, and I am sure many will do it faster. There’s a limit to making the police characters human, and this crosses it because it portrays them, to my mind, as imbeciles. And they aren’t.

But on the plus side, if you ignored the obvious link, the plot was well delivered. There was tension, misdirection, and a grand finale worthy of the name.

The story, not so incidentally, features the disappearance of a young child, and the efforts of the police to find her. Any more would be spoiler material, and there is no need.

The main police characters, Recht, Bergman, Rydh, and Lind, have reasonable depth, but some cliche padding to help them stand tall. There is a delicate balance in portraying real life problems that cut across the police work, and sometimes the balance seemed wrong to me. However, that was very minor.

Overall, a bit uneven. Worth reading, but not the author’s best work. (See here and here.)

The Disappeared – Kristina Ohlsson

First up, be aware that this is the third book of a series. So, if you want to read them in chronological order, start with Unwanted, then Silenced, and then The Disappeared.

Second, to cut to the chase, this is a well written police procedural, with an excellent plot, and believable (albeit sometimes bumbling) police characters.

The book starts with several apparently unconnected threads which the author skillfully weaves together, gradually. The main investigation starts with the discovery of the dismembered body of a missing female student. As shocking as that is, the discovery of other bodies signals that this is no isolated incident, though the nature of what exactly is going on eludes the police until the finale.

To varying degrees, the key detectives are personally connected to the investigation. Perhaps that explains their less than stellar progress, although it is also possible this is more realistic than the literary version of criminal investigation.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I just want to mention that although I had a rough idea of the baddie’s identity from early on, the author does a terrific job of making the red herrings part of the misdirection, but still relevant. And the fine pacing that makes this a real page turner, helps towards making this a great read.

In short, recommended.