TBR Pile Challenge: The Silent Wife

I’m loving participating in Roof Beam Reader’s 2015 TBR Pile Challenge because it’s really forcing me to finally read books that I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. And just like finally cleaning out your closets feels amazing, so too does crossing off long standing members of one’s TBR List.

Which brings me to A.S.A Harrison’s The Silent Wife. I’d been meaning to read it for ages, had flipped through it in bookstores many times but I hadn’t made the commitment to purchasing it. Then I had it on a Christmas list and my mama came through for me (speaking of my mama, some of you may have noticed my new banner. My mama did it for me because she’s talented like that! If you want to see more of her work, please visit her site). Once I’d added it to my list AND I had a copy kicking around, it was only a matter of time til I actually read it.

silent wife

Jodi Brett is a psychiatrist who lives a very orderly life. She sees clients in her home in the mornings and then spends the rest of her days running errands, attending professional events, and caring for her home and common law husband, Todd. Todd is a self-made man with a wandering eye. And even though Jodi is aware of his penchant for a little skirt on the side, since he’s never flaunted it and has always come back to her, she’s content to let it slide.

But then Todd meets Natasha and he’s not sure that he wants to go back to Jodi. Which is when we begin our methodical and completely gripping ride to this book’s conclusion.

This book definitely belongs to the Domestic Noir genre that we’re all into right now but I’m not going to compare it to any other books because I think we’re all done with that. It’s a domestic thriller all right but it has it’s own characters and flavour. I thought this book was flawlessly executed. It was precise, each page peeling back the layers of back story, each chapter adding additional complications. Harrison was insanely skilled at creating a paced story that leaves the reader wanting more.

I will say that there was one story thread, involving a molestation, that I wasn’t convinced was necessary. It seemed to give the reader an excuse for one character’s motivation but I’m not sure that it was needed. Aside from that, this book was the perfect kind of domestic thrill ride I so love.

Back when I read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series I was saddened to read that Larsson had passed away before his books became the international phenomenon we’ve come to know. That feeling was echoed this week as a I read Harrison’s brilliant debut novel.. She passed away about two months before her book was published. I’ve since read that she did know that advance copies were received well but she didn’t get to see people reading her book. I hope that wherever she is now, she knows that her book is still being read and raved about.


The Ice Princess

The term “Swedish crime fiction” probably brings images of a certain girl with a tattoo to mind. Stieg Larsson can be considered the ambassador for a new crop of internationally celebrated Swedish authors. These days, Swedish authors are more known for their love of bloodshed and their exploration of seriously twisted relationships than for a redheaded orphan by the name of Pippi Longstocking.

Stieg Larsson is perhaps the best known internationally but he has been joined by Liza Marklund, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Mikael Niemi, and finally, the reason for this post, Camilla Lackberg.

I’m a huge fan of the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. It always makes me sad that he died before they took off the way that they did. I didn’t think that anyone would come close to the twisted tale of murder and sexual deviousness that Larsson created.

But that was before I read any of Camilla Lackberg’s work. Take a look at her author’s photo and you would never suspect that she is capable of the kind of plots that she comes up with.

The book we’re talking about here is The Ice Princess. Erica Falck returns to the small town of Fjallbacka  (which is a real place and so pretty!) after the death of her parents. She is trying to put her life back together when the body of Alex Wijkner, her childhood friend, is found frozen in her bathtub with her wrists sliced open. Initially the police assume that it was suicide but soon other clues surface that point to a much more sinister occurrence. After speaking with Alex’s parents Erica, a writer, decides to dig a little deeper and tell the story of the real Alex as a sort of tribute.

Even I wasn’t prepared for what she finds! Lackberg is twisted! I don’t know what they put in the water in Sweden but these Swedish authors come up with the most warped and crazy plot twists, usually sexual. I couldn’t stop reading this book. I was thrilled to discover that The Ice Princess was the first in a trilogy – the next bookThe Preacher is currently sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to crack it.

One thing that I really struggled with in the Millennium series was the tendency to refer to everyone by their (very similar sounding) last names. Lackberg doesn’t do this and it’s such a relief! Both series are wonderfully Swedish though – referring often to Swedish coffee drinking habits, cooking traditions and trips to Swedish neighborhoods and stores. If I’m honest, this is one of my favourite things about the books. They really are a window into another kind of life – even though I’m sure that most Swedish lives do not involve murder and perverse sexual relationships.

I’m telling everyone I know about Camilla Lackberg. I might be obsessed. I saw The Preacher in a bookstore last week and put down an Agatha Christie I had in my hand so that I could purchase it instead. I chose Lackberg over Christie! I’m too far gone.