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More Swedish Crime: The Preacher

I recently finished the second of the Fjallbacka trilogy by Camilla Lackberg – The Preacher. It was in insanely absorbing read – I finished it in 2 days (two days of complete bliss) and was left wanting to run out and pick up the third, The Stonecutter.

In The Preacher we once again follow Patrik Hedstrom as he attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding a dead woman they find in woods. This time though it’s not someone they know. And she’s been left, naked, on 2 complete skeletons belonging to women that went missing in the area 20 years ago.

Super creepy right? Patrik is under pressure to solve this case – its the middle of a beautiful summer and these bodies are driving the tourists to pack up and leave. Add to that the fact that Patrick and his partner Erica Falck are expecting their first child any day, you’ll forgive him if he starts to think some seriously crazy thoughts. Everything he learns seems to point back to this one well-known local family.

The Preacher takes you much more into the inner workings of the police station – reintroduces you to that motley cast of characters that include an eager young officer ready to do his due diligence, a couple of old hands that are just as likely to be spending the day at a rest stop with a picnic as they are doing actual police work and a police chief who may or may not have a mail order bride in the wings. It’s a wonder Patrik is able to get anything done really.

I really enjoyed this book as well although this one was more Patrik Hedstrom-centric and I found myself waiting for the bit when Erica Falck would make her presence felt more. Erica just stays home dealing with a bunch of unwelcome houseguests, while Patrik runs all over town trying to figure out this case.

Lackberg is really good about taking you down a path that you think you’ve figured out, only to ensure that it dead ends and you are left wondering how you ever went there in the first place. She rewards her reader and then frustrates you. Round and round we go until the, very satisfying, conclusion that has you wondering how you didn’t see it all coming from the beginning.

That, or I am dumb as a bag of nails. I guess that that’s not completely outside of the realm of possibilities…

I’m anxious to get my hands on the next book which shouldn’t be too hard – all of a sudden Lackberg’s books are popping up everywhere! Great summer reads! And although they are billed as a trilogy, having flipped through a few it seems more like a series at this point. More to read!

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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.