The Stranger by Camilla Läckberg, translated by Steven T. Murray
Also published as The Gallows Bird, 2011; originally published as Olycksfågeln, 2006
This edition: Open Road Integrated Media/ Pegasus Books, 2013
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
The Stranger is the fourth Patrik Hedstrom-Erica Falck novel by Läckberg, and it’s the first one I’ve read in this series. Set in a small town in southern Sweden, the novel follows Patrik’s investigation of a single car accident that he suspects was homicide as well as the investigation of the murder of a reality show contestant living in town for five weeks. His fiancee Erica is a true crime writer, but she doesn’t do any writing in this book: she’s in the midst of caring for her sister Anna and planning her wedding.
I’m new to Läckberg, and I didn’t know what to expect. This book is heavy on personal drama in all of the personal lives of its characters, including Patrik’s boss Melberg, and it’s lighter on the mystery. I read it very quickly despite the fact that I didn’t feel a lot of tension mounting in the plot.
There are a couple writing tics that bothered me about this book: Patrik is a perfect police officer (he has a fabulous memory, he gets along with everyone), and Läckberg withholds information from the reader after Patrik gathers it in a phone call, for example. I think she does the latter because there are so many characters to juggle in the story, and the mystery takes a back seat to the investigation to a certain degree. Despite my quibbles with the book, I’m willing to try The Ice Princess to see how it compares to this one.