The Stranger: A Novel by Camilla Lackberg (Pegasus Crime, $25.95, 384 pages)
This police procedural featuring Detective Patric Hedstrom picks up right where Ms. Lackberg’s third crime novel, The Stonecutter, abruptly concluded. A newcomer, pretty blonde Officer Hanna Kruse, becomes the second female on the Fjallbacka, Sweden police force. Her presence shifts the dynamics among the officers and provides an opportunity to delve into their feelings. Patric must defend his intuition and work around the nearly-useless Police Chief Bertil Mellberg and the pompous town mayor Enling W. Larson who has recruited a reality show to his town to promote tourism.
A series of vignettes and quick shifts establish the characters and the plot. The eerie switching among character groups — reality TV show and crew, townspeople and the mayor, keeps the reader alert. The main event is the suspicious death of a local shopkeeper. Her death leads to an ever-widening police hunt for a possible murderer.
Ms. Lackberg is a master at building her tale via shocking and troubling events. To her credit, she does not over-use this technique. Rather, the frequent use of coffee, tea and cinnamon bun breaks by all the characters makes for a charming antidote to a very scary book.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.