My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.”
----Jonathan Safran Foer
Camilla Läckberg, the international bestselling author, is back with her new Nordic noir, The Hidden Child which is the fifth book in her popular crime thriller series, Fjällbacka. This book welcomes the well admired protagonist, Patrik Hedström, who is on a four month paternity leave for his 1 year old daughter whereas his popular crime writer wife, Erica is back to writing novels but she is distracted by sight of her mother's journals and lingering mystery behind a Nazi medal found among the belongings of her mother, soon followed by the murder of the historian whom Erica had sought help for that medal's history right before his tragic death.
Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother's possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family's past and finally uncover the reasons why.
Her inquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother's circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death. Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica's husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old?
Reluctantly Erica must read her mother's wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica's past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be…
Patrik is on leave for his daughter Maja and he can't stop himself from disturbing his wife, Erica who is back to writing novels in the very comfort of their home. But on the very first day of his leave, Patrik is stumbled upon a crime scene where the dead body of an old historian has been found by his colleagues, and little did Patrik knew that Erica had sought help, not very long time ago, from the same historian about an old Nazi war medal that she found among her late mother's belongings. Together Patrik and Erica embark upon a forgotten path taking them back in time through Erica's mother's journals that narrate the period when the world war II is coming to an end, in order to find the connection of her mother and her friends in Sweden in the war. Eventually the history begins to unravel right in front of their eyes when the hidden secrets surface up about a young and naive couple who got caught up between love and war.
The book held me from the very first chapter till the very last line of the book, although I must say, the book ended with a bang(I mean literally! )- a cliffhanger hinting to the next book in the series. The book opens a bit slow and all the while it felt like there's no point of stretching such a good story for so long by withholding the secret which finally became very obvious midway through the story. Anyhow, what allured me to stick to this book is the way the author narrates the whole story, bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece in a forward motion, where there were no wrong turns to mislead me into another theory of what has actually happened in Erica's mother's past.
The writing style is flawless, with a captivating narrative style. The prose is evocative since most of the time it brings up the past despite of the clean slate kind of situation. The importance of having family is closely observed in this story thus leaving the readers with a feeling of longing for their families. Moreover, the author captures the aura of the war and how war affects the bonds of the families if someone from that family becomes a prisoner of the war and how war can bring people together and they destroy those newly formed bonds, all these themes are delicately depicted into this story.
The mystery doesn't play any games with the minds of readers, yet the author takes a lot of time to unravel it, by giving each and every character a proper presence in this puzzle, I mean it's like every one adds up to this mystery. The atmosphere that the author sets in to this story line is thick in suspense and gives a chilling feeling while reading it and the very essence of evil, since the best part of this story is the careful postmortem of darkness underlying during the era of war.
The characters are strongly developed, with lots of back story so that the readers are able to contemplate with each and every one of her characters in this book. The demeanor reflected in each people of this small city in Sweden is impressive, where all the families have their own story to tell. The main characters are developed with the pace of the mystery. The author here simply played with the minds of the readers in her own way, thus reproducing a brilliant masterpiece. And I promise, there are some characters in the book which are going to stay with you long after the end of the story.
The author gives a vivid picture of Fjällbacka, where the story is set, given the fact that the descriptions in the book are very detailed and with such intricacy the plot has been laid out, that it feels like the reader is himself watching the crime scenes unfolding right in front of his eyes. Moreover, the author strikingly captures the cold and the gray backdrop of yet another amazing city in the world, Fjällbacka, that comes alive with the story.
Since this is the third book that I read in this series, the first being not so memorable for me, but surprisingly this book stands out in the mellow, which being a bit tedious yet maintains that old charm of being intriguing and intense both at the same time.
Verdict: Nordic noir at its best and Camilla knows how to device a page turning thriller with a flavor of history and a deathly murder plot.
Born in 1974, Camilla Läckberg graduated from Gothenburg University of Economics, before moving to Stockholm where she worked for a few years as an economist. However, a course in creative crime writing became the trigger to a drastic change of career. Her first four novels all became Swedish bestsellers. Läckberg's books are always set in or around her birthplace, the small Swedish west coast town of Fjällbacka.
She lives in a suburb of Stockholm, with her husband Martin and her three children.
Visit her here
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