Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Marit Kaspersen, who has left her husband Ola, to live with her girlfriend Kerstin, is found dead in her car which has gone down a steep slope and hit a tree.
She stinks of booze, but Kerstin, Ola and Marit's daughter Sophie say that she never touched alcohol. There are other signs that vaguely remind detective Patrik Hedstrom of something he heard about an unsolved case at a police seminar.

There is plenty going on in the towns of Tanumshede, and Fjallbacka.
The investigation into Marit's death becomes more complex. The lazy incompetent police chief Mellberg has a new romantic interest. Anna with the help of Dan gets over her deep depression, and throws herself into organizing the forthcoming wedding of her sister Erica to Patrik. Hanna an attractive new police officer joins the team at Tanumshede police station.
And a TV reality show is being filmed in the town with cameras following the participants every move, and hopefully creating an economic boost for the town.
When one of the reality TV show's contestants is murdered Patrik and his team realise they may have a serial killer to track down.

The Gallows Bird is the fourth book in this series, and I cannot argue with the blurb that states '7 million books sold', because Camilla Lackberg is definitely very readable. The reader gets almost two or three disassociated stories with a stark gulf between the tales of domesticity, and wedding preparations, and the evil crimes perpetrated within the main story.
I read once that Patrik Hedstrom was the nicest man in crime fiction, but that could be because in Ms Lackberg's books as a contrast to Patrik she creates some pretty revolting male characters.

'True,' said Martin. But what can we do about it? Mellberg and the odious Erling W. Larson are so intent on sucking up to the media that they didn't even consider shutting down the production.'

The translation by Steven Murray is smooth and not intrusive, and that added to the easy reading style. The plot is fairly transparent despite a few red herrings, but I don't really think people read Camilla Lackberg for the Byzantine cleverness of her plots. This series is all about the development of her characters and their lives, and no less worthy of attention for that. At the end of this novel we get a little teaser to encourage us to read number five The Hidden Child, and I will.
The Gallows Bird was sent to me by the very kind Maxine of Petrona.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Norman, I expect to read The Ice Princess soon but have not read any of her books yet. You have encouraged me to fill this gap.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - Thanks for this well-done review. You highlight quite well Läckberg's appeal Her plots are solid but really, it's the character development and (for me, anyway) the setting that "makes" these books.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

A good and fair review, Norman.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I haven't been able to read this author. I tried The Ice Princess but lost interest, thought the words simplistic and boring (I know, ouch).

She was also panned by Marilyn Stasio, the Crime columnist for the New York Times Book Review who basically said that Swedish citizenship does not a writer make.

I know there are readers who don't like Fred Vargas or other writers, and I just don't see this writer's appeal, but I'll be fair and try again.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

I agree with Kathy that these books are written with very simple prose. A lot of crime fiction seems to be written at this rather simplistic level these days. Vargas is a true individual, even if she's not one's cup of tea one can admire her individuality in a world of copy-cat novels!

1:34 PM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes. That's it, simplistic. It reminds me of a fifth-grade reading assignment.

One thing with Vargas. The discussions are vigorous and interesting about her writing style and imagination.

I ordered Vargas' book, plan to read it right away when I get it and then loan it to 6 or so people. I await their responses and anticipate the reactions and comments will mirror those on the blogosphere. Everybody has reading preferences and taste differs.

Vive la difference!

7:15 PM  

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