Author: Kristina Ohlsson
Emily Bestler Books/Atria, 2013
If you asked me to list some of my current favorite authors of crime thrillers, Kristina Ohlsson of Sweden would definitely be in my top five. I read her book Unwanted last year and found it to be a breath of fresh air. In addition to being an edgy thriller, it shed light on domestic violence and mental illness. (Click here to read my entry on Unwanted.) Her second book Silenced focuses on a different type of social issue: immigration and the plight of refugees. Despite the heaviness of these topics, Ohlsson succeeds in giving us a great story without being judgmental. I like her balanced perspective.
Silenced opens with an assault on a young girl during the Midsummer holiday in Sweden. This changes not only the girl but her entire family. Years later, a clergyman and his wife are found dead in their home. They were both known for their work with refugees. At first, it looks like a murder/suicide, but Alex and his team aren’t convinced. When an undocumented immigrant is found dead soon after, the team begins to wonder if there could be some connection to these incidents.
In a parallel story, a Swedish woman is trapped in Bangkok. We don’t know why she’s there, but it appears that someone out there doesn’t want her to come back home. (As someone who’s done quite a bit of global travel, I have to say that the scenes involving this character were made of stuff that could easily give me nightmares.)
There’s a lot going on in the investigators’ personal lives, too. Alex Recht, the team leader, has a strange feeling that his wife is about to leave him. Pregnant Fredrika Bergman is having difficulty dealing with her need to work a reduced schedule. She’s also struggling with an increasing desire for more time with the baby’s father; they're in a long-term relationship, but he's actually married to someone else. Meanwhile, 'bad boy' Peder continues to offend people left and right, always saying the wrong thing and not quite understanding why people react the way they do. And there’s a new investigator on Alex’s team. Joar is a sort of a golden-boy who’s very serious and professional – the complete opposite of Peder, who sees him as a rival.
If you enjoy Scandinavian crime thrillers, I think you'll like this series. I'd recommend for you to read Unwanted first in order to understand the dynamics between the police investigator characters. If you do, I hope you'll continue on to Silenced. According to online sources, there are a total of four books in what's called the Fredrika Bergman series. The third book, The Disappeared, is available for pre-order at Amazon UK for release in early August. No sign yet of when it might be available on this side of the pond, though. I'll keep looking because I want to read it.
[Apologies for the weird formatting in this entry. I'll try to correct the HTML later -- don't have time right now!]