Returning from their summer vacation to their desecrated home in Gotland, a Swedish family can’t imagine how things could be worse. But Östlundh can.
Someone—presumably the very last of the tenants to whom noted photographer Henrik Kjellander and his wife, food blogger Malin Andersson, rented their house while they were away with their children, Ellen, 7, and Axel, 5—has helped themselves to some glasses and dishes, strewn garbage and broken glass all over the floor, used the children’s toy basket as a toilet, and poked the eyes out of a family photograph. Fredrik Broman, just returned to patrol duty on the Visby Police Department after two years’ medical leave, soon finds that all leads to those tenants are dead ends. Unfortunately, the family’s troubles are only beginning. Another photograph taken from the house is returned with the eyes similarly defaced. Ellen is kidnapped from her school by a mysterious woman. And soon enough, the home becomes the scene of a horrific double murder. Who could have hated Henrik and Malin enough to have waged such a relentless war against their family? For better or worse, one possible answer is close to home, for Henrik’s been battling his half sisters, Elisabet and Alma Vogler, over an inheritance from their grandmother. Nor do the Voglers seem like the kind of people who could never have resorted to violence. But Fredrik and the other members of the police investigative department, convinced the answer lies elsewhere, keep digging and eventually reach sins as dark as they are commonplace.
Middling among the endless crop of Scandinavian procedurals but a distinct improvement over Fredrik’s debut (The Viper, 2012).