The Crow Girl Eric Axl Sund.
I had heard a lot about this trilogy of books before it was amalgamated into one, and at 786 pages it is a big book.
Not only is it big but it is tough reading at times, not because it is badly written, it isn’t, but because of the subjects it covers.
This book looks at systematic child abuse, generational abuse, peer abuse, multiple personality disorders, child trafficking, kidnapping and manipulation of vulnerable people.
Jeanette Kihlberg is an Investigator in the Stockholm Police. Married with a teenage son life at home is not good. Her aspiring artist husband is not pulling his weight and she is having to borrow money from her father. She is becoming more alienated from her son as she spends more time at work.
Then the murders start. The bodies of young men who have been, very severely beaten and mutilated start to turn up around the city. As Jeanette becomes embroiled in the investigation she identifies a suspect, a man already under investigation for child abuse, but her investigations keeps being thwarted by a senior prosecutor.
Meanwhile psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund is interviewing people who have been accused of, and victims of, child abusers. One of the people she is interviewing is Karl Lundstrom, Jeanette’s main suspect.
When Jeanette is refused permission to interview Lundstrom personally she talks to Sofia and strikes up a close friendship.
Another of Sofia’s clients is Victoria Bergmann, a victim of abuse from a young age. Through interviews between Sofia and Victoria, and flashbacks to Victoria’s early life, the reader is introduced to a very disturbed girl, turning into a very disturbed young woman
Another strand of the story sees a young illegal immigrant boy drugged and held captive. He is abused and brainwashed until he becomes a machine carrying out the whims of the person holding him. Through this manipulation, the boy becomes a killing machine, but is he as under control as his kidnapper thinks, and can they really control him.
As Jeanette’s marriage continues to break down, and her professional life become more frustrating she turns more towards Sofia for solace and friendship.
The more Sofia becomes involved with her clients, the more she cognitively deteriorates. She finds herself blacking out when listening to tapes of interviews with her clients. Falling asleep at night her dreams are filled with the implanted memories of Victoria.
I don’t give spoilers beyond halfway through the book, so I won’t comment on who of the main protagonists has the multiple personality syndrome, or how it affects them and endangers those close to them, but it’s one hell of a story line.
This book is not for the feint-hearted. Some of the abuse scenes are amongst the toughest I’ve read. They are graphic but don’t go all the way, just far enough to leave the reader in no doubt as to what happens, or is happening to people.
It is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read.
I think I would have preferred to read it as the tree separate books. I took a break after part one, feeling slightly uneasy about the story; but I soon picked the book back up to finish it off.
I have read a lot of other reviews which say the book is too long. I disagree, it tells the story with no slack. It has to be as long as it is.
I think readers are going to have to find a new name fort this genre, Nordic Noir doesn’t seem right.
Maybe Nightmare Invoking Nordic Noir would be more appropriate.
A great book, but not a relaxing read for your holidays.
Available for the Kindle via Amazon