For those who found Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series of books to be fresh, invigorating diversions, prepare thyself - there is a new Swedish Sheriff in town! Her name is Camilla Lackberg and this book is the first in her series of seven mysteries.
Besides the common thread that both authors were born in Sweden, they share the same American translator, Steven T. Murray. The major differences are that Lackberg is alive and writing and has been deemed Sweden's most successful writer of all time. This series has surpassed her late counterpart's in gross sales.
Not certain what is fed to young mystery writers in Sweden that enables them to create such troubled, yet interesting characters. The storylines do dip towards the dark side.
Erika Falck is a biographer who returns home to sort out the estate of her late parents. Erika learns that her once best friend, Alexandra, has been found dead, frozen in her bathtub, in an unheated house. Erika's curiosity about her friend's death leads her to the police investigator in charge of the case, Patrik Hedstrom, another old childhood friend.
Fortunately for Erika (and readers who enjoy a nice romantic twist) Patrik never got over his childhood crush on Erika. Flames kindle as the investigation grows more complicated by the day. The town drunkard, who was having an unlikely affair with Alexandra, is then also found dead.
There is no shortage of characters in this book and all have significant back-stories. For a book being 400 pages long, there are only six chapters. Dialog is buried in paragraphs. The story starts slow and is not very seductive, but gains speed after about 50 pages. This was a similar criticism for Larsson's first novel, that didn't hook the reader until after 75 pages or so. Sticking with this book is worth the time invested. Because of the number of characters and sub-plots, it will be difficult to guess the ending. Lackberg has laid the foundation for a long-running series.