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Book Review: The Girl in the Woods

The Girl in the Woods by Camilla Lackberg

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release date: 2018

A missing child

When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods outside Fjällbacka, people are horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a child went missing from the same spot, and was later discovered, murdered.

A murder

Back then, two teenage girls were found guilty of the killing. Could one of them be the culprit this time? Detective Patrik Hedström starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side

A community torn apart

But as Patrik and Erica dig deeper, it seems that everyone in the tight-knit community is hiding something. And soon, the residents must confront the fact that there could be a murderer in their midst…

My thoughts

Camilla Lackberg has delivered another title in the Erika Falck / Detective Patrik Hedstrom series, continuing on with the unfolding of their lives while introducing a new murder mystery. As is the style along side the current mystery and family story is a connected tale from history. I quite enjoy the "flashbacks" as they often show a side to the murderer or related local history. These side trips give added depth to the mystery: how the murderer came to be or how it happens that a house or locale appears haunted or cursed.

In The Girl in the Woods, the mystery concerns the disappearance, and consequent murder, of two young girls from the same Fjallbacka farm 20 years or so apart. Suspects are aplenty; from the parents to the neighbours to anyone within the town limits. Coincidentally, the second disappearance occurs on the same day that a suspect in the first case returns to town. The investigators are flummoxed. Is it a coincidence or is this the murderer after all?

Meanwhile, Erika and Patrick, are learning to cope with demanding children and professional lives while helping Patrick's mum in the lead up to her wedding, and worrying about Erika's sister who is acting suspiciously.

The flashback story is based on a 300-year-old witch's curse and the icy relationship between two sisters. Elin recently widowed and left destitute as a result is given a servant position on her sister, Bretta's farm. Bretta's husband, a local pastor spends a lot of time with his sister-in-law and her daughter. Bretta is jealous on several levels and is really just a hateful person all-round. The jealousy comes to a head and Eliin is accused of witchcraft….. The story of the curse is linked into a modern day murderous incident (there are plenty such incidences in a Lackberg story).

The story is masterfully woven and pulled together at the end, except for the link between the curse and the aforementioned murderous incident. This and this only felt a little rushed to me, not quite as well connected as it could have been. Given the detail, many threads, and no doubt the huge amount of research needed for this story, and the expert way it was handled and kept moving along, this is a minor piece of criticism. I loved the story and am looking forward to book 11 in this series. Or really, any other novel written by Camilla Lackberg.

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