Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg

A boy, in The Preacher, at the crack of dawn, discovers the naked corpse of a young woman in the otherwise serene Swedish seaside town of Fjällbacka, and rushes to inform his parents. As expected they call the police, and since because of the holiday period the local precinct is undermanned, the chief calls in detective Patrik Hedström, who’s the only cop on leave readily available. He, somewhat reluctantly, since his girlfriend is eight months pregnant, agrees to visit the scene of the crime, but once he arrives there he comes to realize that he did the right thing, since apart of the body of the woman they also recover the bones of two other females who presumably died many years before.
     As the mystery deepens and the plot thickens, and some ghosts from the distant past come out in the open again, we spend some time watching Patrik’s girlfriend Erica, a usually overactive soul as she tries to come to terms with her boredom, but also survive the visits of some of her relatives that only remember that she exists when the holiday season arrives. At the same time we take a look at the everyday lives of the members of an unusual family who, one way or another, have a lot of secrets to hide and are not in good terms with the police, or with anyone at that.
     Patrik, despite his constant worrying about Erica, has to work hard and fast to get results, because there’s pressure on the cops from everyone; from the local politicians and the media, as well as from the shop owners who see their businesses suffer big losses, as the tourists start to leave the town in a rush. But no matter how much he wants to solve the case as fast as he can, luck will not to prove to be on his side, as a young woman will soon disappear from the face of the earth, leaving behind no trace, and everyone will think that the killer is behind the new crime as well. As one would expect tensions rise and the police has a lot of explaining to do. Patrik, keeping a cool head, couldn’t care less about the press and the politicians but he knows that things have to start moving faster. And they do. And it’s exactly then when he comes to realize that these two crimes are somehow connected with some others which took place twenty five years ago. But, how could that be? The prime suspect for those incidents is dead, so it really doesn’t make any sense. Or does it?
     Through the thoughts and the memories of her heroes, and through official and unofficial documents, the author takes us back in time and brings to light some appalling secrets, she talks about religious zealotry and the deceits that go with it, and she points out the fact that some people are simply too weak to escape their past and come to terms with modern day reality.
     This is not so much an action packed thriller as a mystery story. The author simply takes a dive into the minds and souls of these characters in order to present them as they really are; weak, and wicked and full of faults. Everything happens for a reason, she seems to think, and as the story progresses she proves just that, by bringing together the various threads and leading the reader to the grand finale.
     However, she’s not only interested in crime and the darkness of the psyche, but also in love; especially the forbidden love, but also the love which can only reach its peak by following many different and hard travelled paths. Everything is fair in love and war, the saying goes, and the good author seems to agree with that. But she also seems to think that even in love there are some gray areas.
     The Preacher is yet another great crime novel by a Swedish writer.

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