July 7, 2013

Camilla Lackberg's The Stranger: A Rather Gushing Book Review


Camilla Läckberg (The Ice Princess, The Stonecutter) is back with another suspenseful case for Detective Patrik Hedstrom in The Stranger. Patrik and his partner, Erica, are trying to plan their wedding, but they're so busy that they've barely arranged anything, even though it's only six weeks away. Then a woman turns up dead, the apparent victim of a drunk-driving incident. But Marit was known as a teetotaler, and Patrik feels uneasy because her death reminds him of something.

Meanwhile, a Big Brother-esque reality show starts filming in and around Fjällbacka, further complicating the lives of the local police. Patrik's team ends up having to break up fights and keep reporters away, while Marit's accident remains unsolved. Things escalate when one of the reality show contestants turns up dead in a rubbish bin.

Patrik must lead his team--one brand-new officer and two older men who aren't good for much--to try to figure out who killed the television star and discover if, as he suspects, Marit's case is part of a bigger killing spree.

As usual, Läckberg skillfully weaves the personal life of Patrik and Erica into the case, making the reader fully sympathize with the exhausted, stressed-out detective. She brings small-town Swedish attitudes vividly to life, creating nuanced characters that are often surprisingly likable in spite of their irritating personal traits. Fans of Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum or Jo Nesbø will love The Stranger.

The mystery itself isn't too amazing - I was slightly irritated with the back story behind the killer(s). But, I adore Patrik and Erica so much that I don't even care. I've read these books out of order; so first I read the one where their daughter is a newborn, then the one where they started dating, and now the wedding-planning one. But, at every level I just relate so strongly with Patrik and Erica - and I think that Noel and I would totally be friends with them in real life. You know, if they actually existed. Which doesn't make me sound crazy at all. Riiiight?

Plus Camilla Lackberg's rather awesome in real life; she's a pretty big celebrity in Sweden. And knowing more about her personally makes her books even more fascinating to me.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? There's some language, and some not-too-specific sex. Depends on your grandma...

Which fictional character would YOU be friends with?

This review was originally written for Shelf Awareness. And there are some Amazon affiliate links; thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm!