She must find Annabelle. Before it’s too late.
Nora’s daughter Annabelle has disappeared, last seen on her way home from a party.
Gullspång’s inexperienced police are wilting under the national media spotlight – and its residents desperate for answers.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING . . .
Stockholm DI Charlie Lager must return home to find Annabelle, and then get out of town as soon as she can. Before everyone discovers the truth about her.
Two detectives from Stockholm are sent to a Swedish rural village to investigate the disappearance of a 17 year old girl Annabelle when she didn’t come home after a party. If you’re looking for an interesting police procedural with focus on two very talented detectives with great deduction skills then I’m not sure you’ll be satisfied. Much of their progress actually comes from one or two witnesses who eventually tell them something useful. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to get invested in a character-driven story which relies heavily on an interesting backstory, all of which happens to be a police detective, then this is worth your while.
DI Charlie (Charlene) Lager fled from this same village 20 years earlier and she’s not looking forward to revisiting her past. The story’s focus is predominantly on Charlie and I got to know her first as someone who drinks, who’s on some sort of medication and who leads a promiscuous lifestyle; getting it on with a married colleague doesn’t even stop her. Not the most admirable person I believe but she is very intelligent and no detail escapes her so she has her good qualities too.
Throughout the story there are many flashbacks to her past which show a very unconventional upbringing by her mother Betty. She keeps calling her Betty all the time which felt a little weird but maybe it was just another sign of how different a family they were too. There was never a label on her mother’s mental illness but I believe she did have one, probably a manic depression of sorts. In any case her mother didn’t really raise her how she should have, although I do believe she loved her daughter in her own way. At the end of the story it made me understand better how Charlie became so messed up with the childhood she had. It took me a long time to understand why she never returned, I couldn’t really define her exact emotion, but in the end I think she was consumed by guilt. It might have been better if the author had made this more clear right at the start, it would have heigthened the intrigue even more from the beginning.
Besides the succint investigation and Charlie’s youth with Betty, there were also two little girls Rosa and Alice in other alternating chapters. These chapters didn’t seem to be related to the rest at all so I was all the more curious how they fit in. I didn’t like the way their friendship was evolving at all and I had that imminent feeling that something was wrong early on in the story but I was still surprised how important their role comes into play.
I enjoyed reading the past sequences most of all because they held most of the mystery. The ongoing investigation was a bit slow and as soon as a key character came into the story I knew it was a likely suspect. Even though the ending was still surprising, I would have been more satisfied with a big climax revealing her murderer, now it fizzled out a little bit for me.
Overall a commendable debut where I especially enjoyed reading about Charlie. You’ll definitely have a feel for this detective in this new series and it’s great to know where she came from.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.