“Unwanted”

AuthorKristina Ohlsson
ISBN:  9781847379597

Why did I read it? It was the Group Read for Scandinavian and Nordic Crime Fiction.

What is it about? A young girl goes missing from a train between Gothenburg and Stockholm when her mother steps off at a station during a delay to make a phone call. Alex Recht and his team endeavour to locate her, but, before they make much headway, the girl’s body is dumped outside a hospital in the far north of the country with the word “Unwanted” scrawled on her head, throwing the case into disarray.

What did I like?Unwanted” focusses on the inner lives of four of the investigative team, giving an insight into how they think. The leader, Alex, seems the most balanced of the team; Peder, like Alex, rose up through the ranks of the force, but has a turbulent home life and is eager to please his superior; Frederika is a civilian recruited into the team who has yet to earn their respect, and has unresolved personal issues; and, finally, Ellen who appears to be no more than a secretary, and an afterthought in the minds of most.

There are red herrings and I was caught out by one unexpected turn of events, which was pleasing – the fact it was unexpected, not the actual alibi. The story remains coherent, though seemingly bouncing around a bit. The translation reads easily, and clearly and kept me reading on in just one sitting. Most chapters were relatively short, and each with focussing on a different member of the team, or the perpetrator(s), and this provided a pace as inner thoughts and processes were revealed.

Kristina Ohlsson writes well developed, individual characters, each having distinct voices, which is always pleasing. The book was a good length and nothing felt padded out; it was all necessary, lean but engaging storytelling.

What didn’t I like? Some of the hidden information was easily discernible, but then, I do read, and watch a lot of mysteries, so that’s probably more my own fault. One particular paragraph raised a distinct impression of déjà vu, which was unsettling. I’m sure I’ve read those exact words before. I was able to keep ahead of the investigators, and this was somewhat frustrating. If only Kristina Ohlsson had thought to be a bit more vague when revealing the murderer’s intent. Mons Kallentoft in “Midwinter Sacrifice” managed this much better, so perhaps I have been spoilt in this regard. I realise others like to stay a step ahead of the detectives, but I rather like a surprise.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I would. “Unwanted” is a good crime fiction novel with interesting characters and a good story. I look forward to translations of Kristina Ohlsson’s other books.

Rating:  4/5.

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