An elderly woman struggles to find an abandoned 3-year-old, a young woman turns up dead while her baby son fights for his life, and the body of a 16-year-old girl is discovered on a ferry to Finland in Gerhardsen’s Swedish police procedural.
This entry in the Detective Chief Inspector Conny Sjöberg series features little face time for the inspector, and when he does take center stage, he doesn’t do much but stew about his personal life. It’s Petra Westman, a female investigator, who discovers the infant barely clinging to life along with his dead mother and sets out to solve the case. Meanwhile, 3-year-old Hanna, the dead woman’s daughter, is alone in their locked apartment, trying to survive her mother’s disappearance. When Hanna randomly calls retired teacher Barbro, the elderly woman sets out to find the child, since the police don’t seem to be taking her information seriously. Meanwhile, on a ferry bound for Finland, wild child Jennifer, 16, is strangled. Who did it? Sjöberg and his squad work the case and find a boyfriend with an abusive father, two Finnish businessmen, a strange elderly man, and a younger sister living with a mother whose main priority is to party. For readers who like their mysteries to surface quickly, the slow, almost infuriating start of this book will certainly call for patience. The first third passes before anything really happens, unless one counts the strange pedophilic prologue that’s never explained. Gerhardsen piles on a boatload of named characters, with some making single-page appearances, and adds hefty doses of back story that come off like too much filler, with a surfeit of subplots making little sense in the context of the story. In the long run, the rather ineffective police investigators do little but make lists of people to question and worry endlessly about their private business.
The incoherent and poorly defined plot drowns under the weight of an ocean of unlikely coincidences.