The Stone-Cutter is the third of Camilla Läckberg’s series of crime novels, set once more in the in the small town of Fjällbacka on the Swedish Coast.
It’s a series that is growing and developing nicely, and I’m very glad I found it.
The style is simple and straightforward but it works. It works very well.
A dramatic and atmospheric opening chapter sees a fisherman finding the body of a child tangled in his nets. A horrible, tragic accident it seems. Patrik Hedström, a detective in the local police force, has to break the terrible news to the parents of the eight year-old girl. A difficult job made harder because Patrik knows the family.
Charlotte, Niclas and Sara, the daughter who is now lost to them, have only recently moved home to Fjällbacka, and have been staying with Charlotte’s mother and stepfather while they look for a home of their own.
Patrik’s partner Erika formed a close friendship when their paths crossed while both were pregnant. Since then Erika has provided sanctuary when Charlotte needed to escape from the demands of her family, and Charlotte has offered support and reassurance and Erika struggles to cope with the demands of her first child. It’s not that Patrik is unsympathetic or unwilling to help, but work so often calls him away.
A post-mortem finds clear evidence that Sara’s death was not an accident, and so a murder investigation begins.
It is an investigation that reveals a great deal: bitter disputes between neighbours, long estrangements between family members, parents struggling to cope with difficult children, marital disharmony … any or all of these things may have a bearing on Sara’s death.
Past history may have a bearing too. The story of the stone-cutter and his family, beginning in the 1920s, must be significant. Why else would it be there?! It’s rather more story-book than the other strands of the book, but still compelling.
There’s a lot going on: the domestic life of Patrik and Erika, the workings of the local police force, the investigation and the lives it changes, and the old history.
Fortunately the plotting has been well thought out. Each strand has plenty to hold the interest, and those strands are very nicely woven together to make a complete story.
The pacing is very well handled too, starting slowly and then building, building …
The mystery was less complex than most and I worked out the ending well ahead of time but that didn’t matter too much. Because it was the right resolution, and because I wasn’t quite ready to leave this book behind.
You see, the point wasn’t so much solving the mystery as following and understanding the human stories. Camilla Läckberg’s characters are simply and clearly drawn, but it is so easy to believe in them and empathise with them. Their situations, their emotions, their responses are so recognisable, and they ring completely true.
I wanted the right resolutions for them all.
And I would like to meet Erika and Patrick again. The events in the final chapter of this book whetted my appetite for more …
Translated by Steven T Murray
The Crime Fiction Alphabet is hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.
“Each week, beginning Monday 10 January 2011, you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week …”
So next week, M is for … ?