Sarenbrant’s first English translation introduces to crime-ridden Scandinavia a Swedish police detective whose third recorded case strikes uncomfortably close to home.
Ordinarily, Emma Sköld’s pregnancy would be the biggest news in her life. But even though she and Kristoffer, her realtor lover, are overjoyed, their pleasure is overshadowed by a new development in the already grim life of Cornelia Göransson, a friend of Emma’s older sister, personal trainer Josefin Eriksson. Just when Cornelia thought the sale of the home she shared with Hans Göransson, the much older husband who dazzled her many years ago with the wealth from his commercial real estate agency, would get her safely away from his mental and physical abuse, Hans comes back to haunt her in the most graphic possible way: by turning up dead the morning after realtor Helena Sjöblom stages her second open house. Cornelia hustles their developmentally delayed 6-year-old, Astrid, away from the scene and over to Josefin’s house, little aware that she’ll need to make more urgent demands on Josefin’s friendship when she’s arrested for murder and must ask Josefin to take Astrid indefinitely. Emma and the rest of Stockholm County’s Violent Crime Detective Unit, unable to uncover any evidence, turn a cold ear on Cornelia’s tales of decades of unreported abuse, and the only remedy for her plight seems to be another dose of homicide while she’s still in police custody. But this latest outrage brings the case even closer to Emma’s own hearth and home.
The house-of-cards structure, piling one disaster atop another, lacks the remorseless logic of the best Nordic procedurals. There’s no denying, though, that the climactic revelation is a shocker.