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Friday, February 20, 2015

Three Police Procedurals

To Dwell in Darkness    (Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James)

While Crombie's novels can be read as stand alones, there is a great deal of back story and many familiar characters who make their appearances.  I've read many, but not all of this series (whatever the library has to offer), and it remains a favorite.  

There are several threads to this story, but the main one features an event at St. Pancras Station.  A protester sets off what he believes to be a smoke bomb, but is actually an incendiary device that sets him aflame and injures several bystanders.  Duncan Kincaid is on the case, but not from his former position at Scotland Yard.  When Kincaid returned from his paternity leave, he found he had been transferred to Holborn and his former superior is unavailable.  He feels isolated and has no knowledge of what led to his sudden transfer.

Gemma is busy with her own investigation into the death of a young girl, but her story in this novel gets less play.  Kincaid's investigation into the St. Pancras Station death takes the lead, but he does get help from his former sergeant Doug Cullen and from DS Melody Talbot, Gemma's colleague.

Although the plot involving the incendiary device and the protesters is resolved, there are some dangling threads.  What was behind Kincaid's unexplained and unwelcome transfer? We should hear more about that in the next book--which I eagerly await.

Library copy.

Crime/Police Procedural.  2014.  324 pages.

What the Fly Saw (Detective Hannah McCabe)

This is another of those unexpected arrivals in the mail.  It is one of the novels that kept me interested, but also created some of those nit-picky elements that are distracting.

In Albany, New York, a blizzard has disrupted all city services, and Kevin Novak, a funeral home director is found murdered in the basement of his funeral home with an arrow embedded in his chest.  Hannah McCabe and her partner Mike Baxter are on the case.  The motive is obscure, but as Hannah and Mike investigate their leads develop in different directions.  A medium, a psychiatrist, and the minister of a mega-church are among those interviewed, but with no discernible reason for the murder, the investigation is difficult.

There are also several sub-plots involved, one of which seems tied in a vague way to some of the events in the previous book.  

I read Bailey's  The Red Queen Dies a couple of years ago and feel much the same way about this one.  The series is set in the near future, but with few explanations about the new technologies available.  Although advances in technology have increased exponentially in a relatively short period of time and 2020 is just around the corner, the novel would read much more smoothly with a bit more explanation of the futuristic elements, especially since there really aren't that many.

Also similar to the first novel is the amount of time devoted to Hannah's brother...that doesn't serve much purpose.  He simply isn't necessary.  I admit that he's interesting, as he was in the first novel, yet his presence doesn't add enough to Hannah's background information or to the current plot to justify the number of paragraphs he receives.  I'd almost rather see him get a book of his own--his circumstances are certainly intriguing.

Even Hannah is a sort of place-holder, more a means of telling the story than a fully developed character.  Mike Baxter generally seems like a great partner, but there are some curious questions about the way he steers the investigation away from certain individuals.

ARC from Minotaur Books.

Crime/Police Procedural.  March 3, 2015.  327 pages.

The Hidden Child   (Fjallbacka #5)

I'm happy to see the title no longer designates the series as the Patrick Hedstrom series.  The Ice Princess was essentially Erika's story, but the The Stonecutter and The Stranger (The Gallows Bird) cast Patrick in the lead role.

The 7 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)

I've read 4 of these, but have several more to catch up on.  I like the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one in which a murder in the present has roots in WWII.  

I appreciate seeing Anna's story kept up to date; finding that Martin's confidence is growing; that Bertil Mellberg has an interesting human side; that Gosta, too, can make an effort; that Paula, the new hire, is an interesting character, etc.  Oh, and there is a dog. :)

Many readers prefer a tauter story line with fewer characters and less development of minor characters and subplots.  I love the addition of secondary characters and the feeling that the world in which the story is set is a real one with complications other than the main plot.  I love becoming familiar with these characters, watching them develop, getting to know them from book to book. A matter of taste.

Anyway, Erika has spent a year at home caring for Maja, the couple's young daughter, and now it is Patrick's turn.  He has taken paternity leave in order for Erika to be able to get back to her writing.  When the murder of Erik Frankel, an elderly man occurs, it is difficult for Patrick to accept that he isn't part of the investigation.  

A retired history teacher with an interest in WWII and Nazi artifacts, Erik Frankel and his older brother Axel, who is connected to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, have lived in Fjallbacka all their lives.  Axel was out of the country at the time of Erik's death, and no one can think of a motive for Erik's murder.  In a twist of fate, however, Erika had asked for Erik Frankel's help in finding more about the Nazi medal she'd found among her mother's things.

The plot moves back and forth between the present and the war years, and Erika, having located some of her mother's diaries, continues to dig into the secrets of the past.  Lackberg has produced another richly textured and compelling mystery, keeping the reader guessing about who murdered Erik Frankel and why.

Library copy.

Mystery/Crime.  2007; 2014.  526 pages.


  1. Ah, lovely, Jenclair. I have the Crombie book here and will get to it very soon. Maybe next. And I know I'll be continuing to read the Lackberg series. I think I have a copy of THE STONECUTTER and I also have a couple of them on my Kindle. Soon, soon. And, yes, I think I will read the Crombie book next. I have missed Duncan and Gemma. Such a wonderful series.

    1. I really like both Crombie and Lackberg--partly because I become invested in the characters. :) I need to read the Crombie book that preceded To Dwell in Darkness, but I didn't see it at the library.

  2. What great reviews, Jen! The Hidden Child looks very intriguing.

    1. I've enjoyed all of Lackberg's novels that I've read, Irene. I like that they are long and involved and have great characters!

  3. They all sound intriguing! Never read any of these authors so ill have to check them out.

    1. If you decide to read Crombie or Lackberg, start at the beginning if you can. You can read them as stand-alones, but it is fun to watch the characters develop. :)

  4. I just finished the Crombie book last week and really liked it. I've read the whole series and it is growing on me more and more as the story continues. This one ends with a strong hint of things to come, though, that I'm not sure is a twist that I will like as much as following the procedurals that have preceded it. I hope I'm wrong...and knowing Crombie, I probably am.

    1. Yep, the hints are intriguing, but they promise nothing good for Duncan. :(

  5. I really enjoy the Deborah Crombie series. I feel like those books are just so easy to get into. Plus, she alwasy has a map in her books! :)

    Have only read one Lackberg book and need to catch up with that series. Great mysteries to look for!

    1. I know--I love the maps, they add so much! Although their styles are different, both Crombie and Lackberg like a big cast of secondary characters that give a richness to the lives of the main characters.

  6. The Crombie book sounds really good. I was eyeing an earlier book of hers on my shelf the other day, considering reading it soon.

    I like the sound of The Hidden Child. Mention World War II and my interest is immediately piqued.

    1. The effects of WWII on Sweden have been mentioned by quite a few Scandinavian authors, and I always find these stories interesting because most of WWII fiction concerns Britain, France, and Italy.