The Stonecutter – Camilla Läckberg (Translated by Steven T. Murray)

(reviewed by Renée Kay)

I came across The Stonecutter by Camilla Läckberg while at the library picking up another book I had reserved. What caught my attention was that is was yet another Swedish mystery, which I can’t seem to get enough of. Was I in for a fascinating, yet unnerving read!

The current story begins with a fisherman pulling a small child from the water. What appears to be a straight forward drowning actually is something quite disturbing. The secondary story takes place in 1923. Agnes, who is wealthy and spoiled, gets pregnant by a stone-cutter who works for her father. Their stations in life are very different and things go downhill for both them and their two children.

The book toggles between the present and past, while introducing new characters along the way. Patrik Hedstrom, a policeman working in a small town in Sweden, is trying to solve the crime while dealing with incompetent law enforcement at work and a wife with postpartum depression. Adding to his problems is his mother (her mother-in-law) who treats her like she’s incompetent in her mothering. There is another side story which involves the neighbors of the murdered child’s family, that is an integral part of the story. This, by the way, also brings in the subject of Asperger’s syndrome. Needless to say, this novel is rich with characters and life’s circumstances.

Läckberg manages to keep all the characters and their situations straight, and there are many. Maybe too many, but the stories and connections to each other mostly mesh together nicely as does the ending.

I enjoyed this book and found it to be an easy read while at the same time challenging.
The only negative aspect is that some of the characters/situations seem forced and unnecessary. For example, I wasn’t clear why the police chief’s story was included. It almost seemed that the author needed to write something about everyone as if they’d been neglected.

All in all, I found it an enjoyable read, without a predictable ending. I had some ideas but didn’t definitively know who the murderer was until close to the end, which kept my interest.

I had never read any of Läckberg’s novels and soon realized that The Stonecutter was the third and latest novel in the series featuring Patrik Hedstrom. I look forward to reading the others: The Ice Princess and The Preacher.

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