UNWANTED by Kristina Ohlsson


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Ohlsson enters the crowded field of Swedish procedurals with the tale of a man bent on exacting a terrible revenge on errant mothers through their innocent children.

Even after Sara Sebastiansson left the Gothenburg-Stockholm train for a moment to make a phone call and got separated from her sleeping daughter Lilian, 6, when the train pulled away, reuniting the two of them should have been routine. But a combination of bad luck, distractions and the uncannily precise planning of a determined kidnapper left Lilian’s seat empty and scores of potential witnesses unable to say what had become of her. The answer arrives in two horrible installments: first a parcel containing the little girl’s clothing and hair, then the discovery of her naked body in a hospital parking lot, the word “UNWANTED” written on her forehead. DCI Alex Recht’s special investigation team focuses on Sara’s estranged husband Gabriel, whose history of abuse, sudden disappearance and trail of lies mark him as well worth their attention. Inevitably, however, another child is abducted and killed, and the cops realize that they need to look outside Sara’s circle for suspects. The case, maintains Alex, is “a wild animal that had paralyzed his whole team,” and it’s easy to see why: Nothing and no one runs true to form, from Gabriel’s monstrous mother to philandering DI Peder Rydh and prickly team newcomer Fredrika Bergman.

Connoisseurs of serial mayhem will solve the mystery long before Alex and his team, but Ohlsson’s knack for building surprises into the most routine scenes and people suggests that there’ll be plenty of material for the promised series.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9889-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2012


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