Friday, December 21, 2018

Camilla Lackberg - The Girl in the Woods

When a four-year-old girl disappears from in the woods just outside Fjällbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered.
Back then, two teenage girls were found guilty of the killing. Could it really be a coincidence that one of the girls – now a world-famous actress – has just returned to Fjällbacka? Detective Patrik Hedström starts investigating, with his fearless wife, Erica Falck, by his side.
But as Patrik and Erica dig deeper, the truth becomes ever murkier. For centuries ago, a woman burned at the stake for witchcraft cursed the Fjällbacka families who accused her, and now it seems the past may be coming back to haunt them…

Comment: This is the most recent installment in the Fjällbacka series, which features the couple Erica and Patrik as the main characters. My edition is a paperback copy, which was released very recently despite the hardcover had been out since last year.

In this story, the main focus is the investigation of the disappearance of a young girl, in the same spot where another girl thirty years ago had also gone missing. That girl was found dead and now many people fear the same thing could happen.
There are also some coincidences that Patrik doesn't trust such as the fact that after all those years, the two teenagers who admitted the rime but later retracted their statements are again in
Fjällbacka after not seeing each other in all that time. But if this is related to the girl missing, why doing soemthign that would point out the guilt to them once more?

Once again, the author leads the readers through quite a rollercoaster. There are many details to thnk about, to focus on, to connect to one another and although I like the style, it was a little tiring to keep up with so many things at once.
Basically, the multi POV tactic is refreshing and gives the reader the sense we follow everything and are aware of so many things but the only problem with this being a suspense is that the characters don't share all their thoughts and this doesn't seem realistic, considering how we see certain scenes when the truth comes out. Some secrecy in their words and movements just doesn't feel realistic. 

In this novel we have, by going through the POV of several people:
- the crime investigation 
- the issue of refugees from the Middle East countries
- bullying
- the domestic lives of many people
- the issues of complicated relationships
- comparisons to the old case of the missing girl 
- and also the POV of the woman in 1671
All these threads combine one another page after page and it's a lot to focus on. Of course the author does it very well, the story despite long (my copy has around 770 pages) flows and it's very easy to turn the pages to see what happens. 
I think the author was clever in choosing how to portray her characters and the ones we are used to see now - Erica, Patrik, Martin, Paula, Rita, Anna, Mellberg - aid in this sense that there is a community there, that even with complicated things in their personal lives, they are people one can trust.

Following the main issues dealt in this novel, we have the way each character embodies those situations. There's a lot to take in in this story and when I got to the end and realized how everything is connected, it's actually a sad thought that so many people suffer pointlessly because of things avoidable. Others not so much but it does make one think that many problems would be solved if people actually used their brains and communicated their feelings or opinions and respected others. 

It's interesting how the "secondary" plots were intertwined here. The investigation of the little girl's disappearance is the focus point of the suspense but there are some issues around that are very contemporary like the refugees are accepted or not in the countries where they escape to and the bullying. People can be cruel and I liked how the author didn't mince words or scenes to demonstrate in a fictional tale how real these subjects can be. In the end, they proved to be even more serious than what i expected. I mean, there are times where the clues seem to align, a word, a scene that points in the right direction and then we get distracted by other things. In the end, the surprise wasn't as much why but the how certain situations would happen.

This was a great suspense book, I like the community created between the central cast of characters and I'd return to these books for those characters alone, it's always good to see them interact and see their loves moving on. As for this book's plot, what other consequence could it have? It's another sign that contemporary societies aren't as amazing as many prefer to imagine.
Grade: 8/10

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