The author has also been called Swedens Agatha Christie. The book is free-standing but its 2 in her volume series featuring detective Patrick Hedstrom. The focus is on a crazy feuding family, descendants of a now-deceased charismatic preacher who passed his healing ability on to his two sons. The members of the family range from a wealthy accountant living on a big estate to trailer trash a morbidly obese woman A great detective story from the Queen of Nordic noir, translated from Swedish. She spends all her time rearranging photo albums from the days when she was a beauty queen. The immediate mystery is that the body of a young missing woman is found in a gorge in a scenic tourist area dumped off a cliff.
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During an unusually hot July, detective Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck are enjoying a rare week at home together, nervous and excited about the imminent birth of their first baby.
Across town, however, a six-year-old boy makes a gruesome discovery that will ravage their little tourist community and catapult Patrik into the center of a terrifying murder case. The boy has stumbled upon the brutally murdered body of a young woman, and Patrik is immediately called to lead the investigation.
Things get even worse when his team uncovers, buried beneath the victim, the skeletons of two campers whose disappearance had baffled police for decades. When yet another young girl disappears and panic begins to spread, Patrik leads a desperate manhunt to track down a ruthless serial killer before he strikes again. Excerpt The Preacher 1 The day was off to a promising start.
He woke up early, before the rest of the family, put on his clothes as quietly as possible and managed to sneak out unnoticed. He stopped for a moment and peered in awe into the sheer crevice through the rocky outcrop. The sides of the rock were six or seven feet apart, and it towered up over thirty feet into the sky, into which the summer sun had just begun to climb.
Three huge boulders were solidly wedged in the middle of the cleft, and it was an imposing sight. The place held a magical attraction for a six-year-old. When he had watched the film himself, he felt a little tickle in his stomach as he saw the robber chieftain Mattis ride through. Sometimes he played highwaymen here, but today he was a knight. A knight of the Round Table, like in the big, fancy colored book that his grandmother had given him for his birthday.
He crept over the boulders that covered the ground and made ready to attack the great fire-breathing dragon with his courage and his sword. The summer sun did not reach down into the cleft, which made it a cold, dark place. Perfect for dragons. Soon he would make the blood spurt from its throat, and after prolonged death throes it would fall dead at his feet.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw something that caught his attention. He glimpsed a piece of red cloth behind a boulder, and curiosity got the better of him. The dragon could wait; maybe there was treasure hidden there. He jumped up on the rock and looked down the other side.
For a moment he almost fell over backward, but after wobbling and flailing his arms around he regained his balance. Later, he would not admit that he was scared, but just then, at that instant, he had never been more terrified in all six years of his life. A lady was lying in wait for him. She was on her back, staring straight up at him with her eyes wide. Maybe she would force him to tell her where he lived and then drag him home to Mamma and Pappa. Funny, lying there naked. Especially when it was so cold.
Then something impossible occurred to him. What if the lady was dead? The realization made him jump down from the rock, and he slowly backed toward the mouth of the cleft. After putting a few yards between himself and the dead lady, he turned around and ran home as fast as he could.
He no longer cared if he was scolded or not. Erica tossed and turned in bed, but it was impossible to find a comfortable position. It drove her crazy that he could sleep so contentedly next to her. How dare he lie there snoring when she lay awake night after night? She poked a little harder. He grunted, pulled the covers up and turned his back to her. With a sigh, she lay on her back with her arms crossed over her breasts and stared at the ceiling.
Her belly arched into the air like a big globe, and she tried to imagine her baby swimming inside of her in the dark.
Maybe with his thumb in his mouth. Although it was all still too unreal for her to be able to picture it. Well, pretty soon it was going to be very real. Erica was torn between longing and dread.
It was difficult to see beyond the childbirth. To be honest, right now it was hard to see beyond the problem of no longer being able to sleep on her stomach.
She looked at the luminous dial of the alarm clock. Maybe she should turn on the light and read for a while instead. Three and a half hours and one bad detective novel later, she was about to roll out of bed when the telephone rang shrilly. As usual she handed the receiver to Patrik. Oh shit, yeah, I can be there in fifteen minutes. See you there. Mellberg wants me to come along. Before he rushed out the door he climbed onto the bed and kissed Erica on the belly, somewhere near where she vaguely recalled she once had a navel.
With a sigh Erica hoisted herself out of bed and put on one of those tentlike dresses that for the time being were the only things that fit her.
Against her better judgment she had read lots of baby books, and in her opinion everyone who wrote about the joyful experience of pregnancy ought to be taken out in the public square and horsewhipped. Insomnia, sore joints, stretch marks, hemorrhoids, night sweats and a general hormonal upheaval—that was closer to the truth. Maybe that would lift the fog a bit. By the time Patrik arrived, a feverish amount of activity was already under way. The techs from Uddevalla were busy with their work and he knew better than to walk right into the crime scene.
They looked in dismay at his shoes and clothing, which at that very moment were adding thousands of fibers and particles to their sensitive workplace. When Patrik stopped outside the tape and motioned to his boss, Mellberg climbed back over the cordon, to the great relief of Forensics.
His voice was hearty, bordering on joyful, and Patrik was taken aback. For a moment he thought that Mellberg was about to give him a hug but thankfully, this turned out to be wrong. Nevertheless, the man appeared completely changed.
Camilla Läckberg: The Preacher, The Stonecutter and The Stranger