In a picturesque little town in Sweden, a woman’s body is found frozen in a bath tub, her wrists slit. Her childhood friend Erica, a writer who is struggling after the death of her parents, and policeman Patrik try to solve the murder.
The review of this book could be whittled down to two words, and they would be unfocused and immature. Unfocused, because there are so many tangents the book goes on that are then abandoned without a true resolution, like the story of Erica’s sister and her abusive husband, or the one about two of her best friends in which one of them cheated on the other. Also, there is a rather huge subplot concerning the romance between Erica and Patrik that sometimes makes you wonder whether it is more important than the murder mystery.
Immature, because the characterization is not up to par at all, especially in a book that wants to focus more on the psychological side of crime than on the gruesome details. Too many of the characters are walking clichés, like the overbearing matriarch of the town’s most important family or the self-destructive but gifted artist. Special mention goes to Patrik’s boss who is only a caricature of a real person. He is incompetent and self-obsessed to a ridiculous degree which makes him not only unrealistic but absurdly out of place in a book like this.
Also, the aforementioned romance is not handled well. I didn’t know whether I should be charmed or mortified by the juvenile antics of characters that are well into their thirties. Although by all accounts rather attractive people, they are both so insecure about their looks that it comes across as annoying rather than relatable. On top of that, this is apparently their only issue and, after overcoming it, it becomes a fairy-tale romance in a heartbeat.
Otherwise, the murder plot itself is conventional but interesting enough, and the identity of the murderer was a surprise. The small town setting and the problems and mentality of the people there is done rather well, and there are some on point observations about the plight of places that only survive due to tourism or wealthy people purchasing old houses as vacation homes. If you need some light reading for a lazy day, I guess this could be a suitable choice.