The Ice Child – Camilla Lackberg

This is another in the author’s series of books featuring Detective Patrick Hedstrom, his wife Erica Falck, and the small Swedish seaside resort town of FjÀllbacka. As with the previous books, the present baddie has a back story, and this is disclosed in alternating flashback chapters. In between, the bloody present has to be dealt with. And how bloody and terrible it is.

A girl who went missing four months ago, comes out of nowhere, walks into the middle of the road, and is knocked over and badly injured. And she has also suffered terrible injuries while being a captive. Who did such foul deeds? And is the case linked to that of other girls missing from nearby towns?

Hedstrom and his crew set out to find the culprit while his wife makes a bit of a nuisance of herself as she researches her book, and their paths inevitably cross.

What was missing here was a bit more meat on the motivation and psychological structure of the prime movers. Nothing quite seemed to be persuasive. The story is horrific, and it is reasonably well told – though the writing is often in danger of getting too tied up with distractions. For example, building up the characters of Hedstrom and Falck is one thing, but the family affairs of Falck’s sister’s family is boring, and seems unnecessary. It adds nothing. (It’s not as if the translator can be blamed.)

There are more loose ends than I might have expected, though some of these may be deliberate so as to link into another book. But I also got the feeling that at times this was the author going through the motions; her heart was not in it. The book did not seem to have the same sharp zest and freshness that earlier books did. So, this was good in places, but not the best I have read from this author.