BURIED ANGELS by Camilla Lackberg (HarperCollins)
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
It may have been Stieg Larsson who skyrocketed Swedish crime fiction to widespread global notoriety in recent years, but keen readers of the genre know the Scandi-crime gold strike has always run richer and deeper than his tattooed girl. Since Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s ground-breaking ‘Martin Beck’ books in the 1960s-1970s, there just seems to have been something in Scandinavia’s water. An elixir blending literary talent, social discourse, ‘peaceful ‘settings, and jarring violence. A well-spring of talent.
Camilla Lackberg veers more towards the classic Christie-esque village murder mystery style than many of her grittier contemporaries, but like Dame Agatha herself, Lackberg is insanely popular: one of Europe’s bestselling authors of any genre, her books have even outsold Larsson’s seemingly ubiquitous Millennium Trilogy in Sweden.
For good reason.
While Lackberg can definitely craft intriguing plots, the true heart of her novels is the domestic lives and relationships between her characters, particularly writer Erica Falck and police detective Patrik Hedstrom and the people closest to them.
In Buried Angels, the eighth instalment in a series set in the picturesque fishing village of Fjällbacka, Erica and Patrick juggle various home and work dramas while being drawn into strange happenings on the island of Valö, where a local woman has returned decades after her entire family mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Arson and the discovery of blood under the floorboards (re)opens investigations old and new, as Lackberg weaves an intriguing story that spiderwebs through several dark periods from Sweden's past.
To put it in TV or film terms, you'd say Buried Angels is a little more Midsomer Murders or Murder, She Wrote... than Silence of the Lambs. It is an engaging and enjoyable read that will particularly appeal to fans of the cosier end of crime fiction.