The Stranger (originally published as The Gallows Bird) is the 4th in Lackberg's Patrik Hedstrom series, and the third in this series that I've read. Lackberg is a Swedish crime writer whose works have been translated into 33 languages.
When a local shop owner is discovered dead in a one car accident, the smell of alcohol is overwhelming. Patrik senses something amiss, although new recruit Hannah sees a standard drunk driving situation.
As Patrik attempts to follow up on the anomalies in the car accident, a memory he can't quite place is triggered. The victim didn't drink, but died from alcohol poisoning rather than the crash, and there are unexplained injuries around her mouth. His instincts are correct, the case is a homicide.
A Big Brother type reality show has located in the small Swedish town of Fjallbacka with the usual combination of contestants eager for any kind of attention and the willingness to be obnoxious for camera time. When one of the contestants is found murdered, pressure from the media transfers attention and manpower to the more publicized death.
The Ice Princess has Erica Falck as the main character, but The Stonecutter and The Stranger have Patrik taking the lead, and the series is called the Patrik Hedstrom mysteries. I hope the next one will pull Erica back into the limelight.
I was glad to see the subplot with Erica's sister Anna (which has run through the previous books) resolved, but on the whole, I don't think The Stranger was quite as good as the previous novels. The series of apparently accidental deaths of men and women of different ages and circumstances in different cities and the reason behind the murders seemed too convenient a device and too forced. It wasn't difficult to guess the murderer fairly early on, and you wonder why the intuitive Patrik failed to pick up on what seemed obvious to the reader about the rumors.
In spite of the drawbacks, I did enjoy the novel. I need to pick up the The Preacher, which somehow I've missed.
The 6 Lackberg novels that have been translated to English:
The Ice Princess (2002)
The Preacher (2004)
The Stonecutter (2005)
The Stranger (The Gallows Bird) (2006)
The Hidden Child (2007)
The Drowning (2008)
The Lost Boy (2013)
The Fjällbacka Murders, based on Camilla Läckberg’s universe and characters, is intended to be produced as ten 90-minute TV-films and two cinematic feature films.
Have you read any of this series?
From Net Galley/Open Road Media/Pegasus Books.
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Mystery/Police Procedural. 2013. Print version 384 pages.