Note: The Preacher is the second in a series by Swedish author Camilla Läckberg. This review assumes you've read The Ice Princess but contains no spoiler to either novel.
Camilla Läckberg's second Erica Falck / Patrik Hedstrom mystery returns the reader to Fjällbacka, a small Swedish fishing village, which is a popular tourist spot during the warmer months. When the police are called to investigate the murder of a teenage girl, they are surprised to discover that the body is arranged alongside the remains of two women who were reported missing more than twenty years earlier.
Patrik is put in charge of all three cases and soon uncovers many local secrets, from flimflam to adultery to blackmail. He has his hands full: Not only is the triple investigation complicated but several of his fellow police officers are messing up on the job. When a second young woman goes missing, Patrik is desperate to find her before she becomes another murder victim.
In the meantime, Erica is facing her own problems trying to adjust to impending motherhood and entertaining a series of unwanted guests. Being eight months pregnant during a heat wave isn't helping her mood either. Naturally, Erica discusses the cases with Patrik, but she plays a much smaller role in The Preacher than she did in the first book.
Although the majority of the story takes place in the present, Läckberg uses flashbacks and changes the point of view when describing the events surrounding the disappearances of the first two women. This device works well, giving the reader a deep sense of the horror of the earlier crimes.
Läckberg's strengths are in her characterizations and sense of place. The mysteries themselves are an odd mix of complex yet not that difficult to figure out. If you're interested in a straight police procedural that will have you guessing all the way to the end, then The Preacher is not for you. On the other hand, if you like good characters, a gritty crime, and a plot that moves beyond the investigation, you'll like Läckberg's work. Although this is no cozy, Erica and Patrik's relationship and the doings of the police force keep the reader engaged.
I listened to the unabridged audio edition (HighBridge, 15 hr, 45 min) read by David Thorn. As I said in my review of The Ice Princess, his accents and pronunciations added to the Swedish feel of the novel. Thorn knows how to build the tension and does an excellent job with both male and female characters. If he continues to narrate Läckberg's books, I'll continue to listen.
Source: Bought (see review policy)
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