In western Sweden’s version of Cabot Cove there is, in the seventh instalment of Lackberg’s series, a nasty death, a historic mystery (of sorts) and a whole load of domesticity. I actually enjoyed this one a little more than its most recent predecessor but even so I doubt I’ll rush to read the remaining four books still to be published in English in my neck of the woods.
The main case here is the investigation by Fjallbacka police into the murder of a young man recently returned to his home town in somewhat mysterious circumstances. For most of the book then there is an assumption that his death is related to his work for a women’s shelter in a nearby town and there are many visits to interview staff, peruse records and faff about inefficiently (seriously they could have wrapped the whole think up in a couple of hours if they’d been a bit logical in their questioning). My real interest was therefore much more concentrated on the historical story involving a young woman in the 1800’s living and looking after the lighthouse on a nearby island which the locals portentously call Ghost Island. Her story wasn’t particularly suspenseful (the ending was easy to spot from a distance) but at least it was told with a degree of brevity. The present-day story on the other hand meandered and wandered fairly aimlessly before wrapping itself up.
The domestic lives of the Fjallbacka police and their extended families occupied another good chunk of the 15 hours of this series instalment and my interest in this ongoing soap opera has waned considerably over the course of the series. I’m not entirely sure why this is, as there are other series where I do maintain my interest in such things but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that here the same people keep experiencing the same things. Good things happen to some characters (Erica), awful things happen to others (her sister Anna) and so it goes. For me the ongoing characters have grown predictable and here there really wasn’t a new character who really engaged me.
I know I’m inconsistent because there are a couple of authors who I only read because they follow a formula (e.g. Dick Francis) so I shouldn’t be finding fault with someone else who does the same but I still do feel like the quality here has dropped away as the word count has increased. In the early books there was always a topic of some interest around which the murder revolved so even if I was a bit bored by the latest baby news I knew it wouldn’t be long until I’d get back to central theme but here that element was missing. If domestic violence against women was meant to be the issue du jour there are plenty of books which deal with that topic with greater insight and depth.
I know Lackberg is hugely popular in Sweden and in translation so clearly I’m the atypical reader looking for her to take her characters somewhere new or, heaven forbid, write about a different set of people entirely. If you’re looking for a series which formula and a cast of largely positive characters (it is refreshing to read crime fiction not dripping with alcoholics) you could do worse than visit Fjallbacka but if you’re looking for originality then honestly I can’t recommend THE LOST BOY.
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Narrator Robin Bowerman
Translator Tiina Nunally ? (the question mark is mine, I couldn’t find the translator information anywhere sensible and I’m making an assumption based on the fact I know Nunally has translated the previous several books in the series).
Publisher Harper Collins Audio 
Length 14 hours 36 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series #7 in the Patrick Hedstrom and Erica Falck series
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