Friday, 25 April 2014

The Hidden Child – Camilla Lackberg

Ok so this book was mostly chosen because it was a £1 from Asda however it had all the ingredients of a good read. Scandinavian crime – check. World War 2 involvement – check. Different twist on the usual male detective on the brink of burn out – check. So far so good.

The book was number 6 of a series of books featuring husband (Detective) and wife (real life crime writer) who live in Sweden and solve crimes that land on their doorstep. I was a little concerned at first that as none of us had read an of the previous novels and so may not be up to speed however Lackberg made is very easy for new readers to slot in with some of the group not even realising this was a follow on book.

As I was new to ‘team Falck’ the no doubt on-going sub-stories were of no real interest to me and sometimes got in the way of the real story. I wasn’t really bothered about Anna and her relationship with her step-daughter or Ernst the dog obtaining coconut fluffs from his new owner. For me it slowed the book down however I am aware this would be of importance to fans of the previous books.

I love Scandinavian crime as I find it fast paced and gritty but this for me wasn’t. I found it very predictable – I thought it was very obvious who would be helping to deliver the baby, that Hans was probably the officer who hit Axel and that such emphasis was placed on the woman with the doll whose husband had just died that they would no doubt be popping up in the story later (and they did).

I particularly thought the part where Patrik interviewed the woman with the doll far-fetched. He brought his wife and his daughter along to a Police interview that he was allowed to carry out despite being on paternity leave. How unprofessional?!!? Yes I know it’s only a story and there are lots of examples where truth gets in the way of a good read but I found myself shouting at the book at this point for being ridiculous.

It made me question how so many of the books had been written if the author had to shoe horn chances where both husband and wife could both investigate the same crime. One of the members of the group had researched the book (10 out of 10 for effort by the way) and had found that the town it is based in only has 800 inhabitants. Connecting so many deaths to one husband and wife seems difficult, I know Midsummer Murders manage to do it every week (more if you count the repeats) but I just found the idea of it unbelievable. Maybe as it wasn’t a Sunday night and I wasn’t sat eating cheese and biscuits like I usually do whilst watching MM. Anyway I digress.

Another member mentioned how she found it annoying that the author would constantly put something like ‘He knew what he had to do’ ‘She suddenly realised where she had heard the name before’ but then left the reader waiting another chapter or 2 until she revealed what it was. This again took away from the high tempoedness so often found in this type of genre.

I thought Maja was conveniently written – a one year old who could walk, talk and play all by herself when the script required it. As a mother of a child who is 2, I again found myself shouting at the book that that sort of thing just wouldn’t happen.

I did like reading about Norway during the War and things such as the White Buses which I had no idea about. From this the group almost decided it would have been a better book if Lackberg had taken away all the modern elements and just left it as a World War 2 book based in Norway/Sweden.

There were also too many other elements that took away from the foundations of the novel. Alzheimer’s, Swedish politics, Lesbians having babies, Step families, Babies out of wed-lock, Concentration camps and the concept of the modern male were all thrown in along with a modern day murder and various trips to wartime Norway. Nothing shone as nothing had the page space it needed.

It’s a shame as they were all good points that really could all have had a novel written about them but instead we were left confused, frustrated and simply not caring. I won’t be going back to read the others.

Book got a 5.5. Next one Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach.

Question time – What is your favourite series of books? Tough one for me as I immediately thought Harry Potter but then I also love (Guilty Secret time) the Jilly Cooper, Rutshire Chronicles Series. Hunger Games were probably the most recent I enjoyed (I literally devoured them) but how can I forget the classics such as The Famous Five and (wait for it) The Babysitters Club! Happy memories.