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little town blues
on July 25, 2010
This novel deals with life in a small Swedish town, and events a quarter of a century earlier which ended in at least two deaths. A woman, her wrists slashed, bleeds to death in her bathtub, covered with ice, preserving her body until it is discovered. Subsequently, an outcast ne'er-do-well artist, her boyhood friend and possible lover, is found hanging in his flat. Both apparent suicides are subsequently determined to be murders, and therein lies the beginning of a tale.
The book is nominally a murder mystery. However, so many extraneous sub-plots and characters clutter it up that the reader becomes bogged down in unnecessary verbiage and unrelated information, slowing down the reading and detracting from the otherwise excellent story. If only a sharper pencil or even a re-write had been applied to the novel, it would have been far superior to the book as published. Nevertheless, it is still worth reading because the main plot and the unfolding of the investigation are well-done. Which is more than can be said for the character development.
Writer Erica Falck seems merely a foil in place of the author, and her new boyfriend, Patrick Hedstrom, is more wooden than alive. As for the police superintendent, he's not even funny, as it appears he is supposed to be. Most of the other characters merely fill in blanks. Given the fact that Lackberg has written seven books that have dominated Stockholm bestseller lists, these observations surely are surprising. That said, the novel is recommended.