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Long-winded and not as engaging as "The Ice Princess"
on November 27, 2009
"The Preacher" is Swedish author Camilla Lackberg's second police procedural mystery, and I have to say that I preferred her first, "The Ice Princess". In this follow-up novel,also set in the Swedish coastal town of Fjallbacka, a female German tourist's body is found atop two skeletons which turn out to be the remains of two young women who went missing in 1979. Patrik Hedstrom, the policeman who helped crack the murder case in "The Ice Princess" returns in this second novel with a much more prominent role. He is now married to Erica, the author from the first novel who played a major role in solving the murder in "The Ice Princess". Though it isn't necessary to read "The Ice Princess" before this second novel, there is quite a bit of background information provided in the first novel about some of the recurring characters such as Erica, Patrik, and Erica's sister Anna. Patrik is put in charge of the investigation, and as the investigators dig deeper, they find that all clues point to the Hult family, comprising patriarch Gabriel, his wife Liane, children Linda and Jacob, and also Gabriel's estranged nephews Robert and Stefan and their mother Solveig. When another young girl goes missing, Patrik and his team find themselves racing against the clock to locate the girl, even as they find themselves faced with dead ends and false clues.
"The Preacher" is quite weak in comparison to "The Ice Princess" - firstly, I was disappointed that Erica does not play a major role in this investigation. Instead she is relegated to playing the expectant mom and wife who has to deal with pesky relatives invading her home during the hot summer months. In "The Ice Princess", Erica played a very important role in the murder investigation and I had come to genuinely like her character so it was underwhelming to see her character take a backseat to Patrik's role as chief investigator in this second installment. Though Patrik is a likable enough character, he lacks the charisma of other major characters in series such as Inspector Sejer in Karin Fossum's novels which are far superior than Ms. Lackberg's novels (the quality of writing, characterization, etc). The story itself could have benefited from better editing, it tends to plod at many points in the novel, and some story arcs could have been omitted. One in particular is the story about Anna, Erica's sister - her domestic problems continue in this second novel, but prove to be more of a distraction and annoyance than an engaging story arc. Final verdict - "The Preacher" is not as engaging as "The Ice Princess", and there are other Scandinavian mystery authors whose works I find more interesting, such as Karin Fossum, Johan Theorin, Arnaldur Indridasson, Henning Mankell, Steig Larssen, etc.