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on February 5, 2013
I do a rotating display at the library on genres and authors. This last month I featured Scandinavian authors. I've read many of the authors I featured, but Camilla Lackberg was new to me.

The Stonecutter is the third book in her series set in Fjall­backa, Sweden that features Detective Patrik Hedstrom.

A local fisherman hauling in his nets draws up an unexpected and grisly catch - the body of a young girl. When Patrik is called to the scene, he is horrified to realize he knows the girl. Further investigation reveals that the drowning was no accident.

The present day chapters dealing with Patrik's investigation are alternated with chapters detailing a story beginning in 1923, set in the same village. The two narratives seemed to have no connection to each other whatsoever in the beginning, but I was fascinated by the older story as well. More and more of the past is revealed with every chapter and I started to get an inkling of where the two narratives might meet. I quite enjoyed having the story slowly but deliciously pieced together. Lackberg has done an excellent job with her plotting - it's intriguing and inventive.

Although Patrik is the lead protagonist, there are other recurring characters that are just as well drawn and developed. Patrik's girlfriend Erica has just given birth to their first child and is having great difficulty coping. His colleagues at the station run the gamut - from keen to lazy to dangerous. The townsfolk are a mixed bunch - all with secrets it seems. I enjoy a series that lets us 'know' the characters and see their lives evolve from book to book.

Lackberg's mystery is excellent, but I also appreciated the depth with which she explored the psyches of all involved - both police and suspects. The theme of relationships is explored in many forms - especially that of parent/child. These explorations were the most frightening parts of the book. There are sub plots never fully wrapped up as well, which was okay - the ending has only left me eager to read the next in the series - The Gallows Bird. A great read and a new addition to my list of must read mystery authors.
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VINE VOICEon July 11, 2010
"The Stonecutter" begins when a fisherman pulls young red-haired Sara's lifeless body out of the water along the coast of Fjallbacka, Sweden. At first, it appears the headstrong daughter of Charlotte and Niclas, who have just recently moved to Fjallbacka, has accidentally drowned. But the autopsy reveals that the water in Sara's lungs is not seawater, but bath water. Now Detective Patrik Hedstrom must conduct a murder investigation among warring neighbors and less-than-happy couples, as well as navigate the political backwaters of the Tanemshede Police Department, a substation of Goteberg, where his incompetent boss, Chief Mellberg, longs to return. In addition, Patrik is the new father of a baby girl and his wife is close friends with the victim's mother, Charlotte. It's all a bit overwhelming for the exhausted detective who finds the investigation has become far more personal than his previous cases.

This third title, an English translation from Swedish author Camilla Lackberg's Fjallbacka mystery series, presents a far more dense narrative landscape than the previous two novels, "The Ice Princess" and "The Preacher." The structure consists of alternating time periods that shift between a story in the past and the present-day account of the murder investigation, but the tie between the two narratives is not revealed until the end. There are also multiple side stories dealing with the lives and relationships of the various characters. Collectively, it all makes for a somewhat cluttered plot. But Lackberg knits it all together in the end. Although the killer's motivation may seem a bit preposterous, "The Stonecutter" is still a good whodunit police procedural with interesting characters, both new and familiar, in a cozy setting with more than enough mystery to go around.

This review is based on the HarperCollins digital edition.
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The third in the series of crime/mystery novels by Camilla Lackberg is a pure thriller. Interweaving the stories of several families and differing years, she gives us a story of those that were left behind and those that are here today.

The town of Fjallbacka in Sweden, where everyone knows each other, or has a sense of the person. It is a resort town, but crime is usually left to break ins and that sort, but on this day, Patrik Hedstrom, Detective in the Fjallbacka Police Department, is called to a drowning of a young girl. This drowning is later found to be a murder. Patrik is familiar to those of us who have read the first two books. He is the knowledgable one in the police department. Mellon is in charge, but is working on getting promoted and leaves most of the work to his minions, and then he takes all the credit. This murder mystery involves several people that Patrik knows, but he is able to keep a close mind to his work, unlike some of his colleagues. Patrik and his wife, Erica, are the new parents of a little baby girl, Maja. Maja is a difficult baby, wanting to feed often and screaming in-between. Erica is having a difficult time with post-partum depression. One of the issues I have with this novel is that the depression is not treated as real. 'She'll snap out it," seems to be the theme of the day. We all know it doesn't work like that. Patrik is a real detective and works out each clue with his colleague, Martin. This leads him to some very interesting people, and varying scenarios are introduced into the plot. This book will keep you interested and wanting more. I thought I knew who the murderer was, but I was fooled until two thirds of the way in.

Camilla Lackberg has a writer's pen. She knows her subject, and all of the plots re realistic with some minor differences. I intend to follow her series. I have become a fan of Patrik and Erica.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 05-14-12

The Ice Princess: A Novel

The Hidden Child. Camilla Lackberg
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on May 29, 2013
I have read the 3 books in a row, the Ice Princess, the Preacher, the Stonecutter.
My preferred style of Nordic noir is police procedural like Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series.
Camilla Laeckberg's style is more of a drama with a criminal baseline. There are so many characters that in my opinion add absolutely nothing to the story yet the writer manages to include so many disparate story lines I am surprised there isn't a soap opera out there based on all these characters.
Many characters are not well developed and seem somewhat linear, almost primitive. Perhaps they are intended as archetypes but the story is too basic to allow for an archetype level of narrative.

All 3 books mostly focus on crime against younger people or children. This becomes apparent on the first couple of pages. It is clearly the most maddening crime and yet because this is a recurring theme the reader is led to anticipate the worst and that somewhat blunts the impression.

My favorite book is the Ice Princess, it is the least overloaded with extraneous characters and the author seems to take her time to build each character. The other 2 books appear to be based on a template of mixing several story lines from several different time periods until they hurriedly come together at the end and the motive for crimes is finally revealed, emotions fly high, and the concentration of bad luck and mental issues becomes close to unbelievable. Not to mention the increase of of the number of characters in each story.

Bottom line, the Stonecutter is reasonably entertaining but with all the melodrama the criminal investigation seems to fade into the background. This book reads very much like a soap opera script.
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on February 2, 2016
Similar to her other books, she enjoys weaving two narratives from past and present together leaving you guessing until near the end of how they will come together. The mystery aspect is very good; however, it is a bit hard to enjoy reading the book because so many of the characters are so miserable and miserable to each other. I was reading the series in order, but stopped after this book because it made me too sad.

We visited this small seaside village in Sweden where the books take place. The town is very picturesque but also incredibly tiny, which is what makes the number of people murdered there in this series so suspicious! In her efforts to show deep character development, for many characters it feels like delving into their misery and malice dominate over any actual growth or complexity.

There are a few exceptions to this, of course. The depiction of the character with autism was a good addition because it highlights how adults with autism can be very high-functioning in some areas (able to do a highly-skilled computer programming job) but not able to function very well without help in other tasks of daily living due to rigidity and difficulty understanding others. I have met a number of autistic adults that would not be too different from the one described here. As the awareness of autism and its complexity increases, hopefully some of the problems like those encountered by this character in the book will decrease.
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on September 6, 2012
This was a satisfactory read. The plot is clever and the representation of policing methods interesting to say the least. The weakness of the novel lies in its language style. I found it woolly at times so perhaps the problem lies with the translation. I love reading detective fiction but this novel failed to excite me enough to want to get back to it as fast as possible. So, it's a meander rather than a high speed chase.
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on September 14, 2015
Camilla Lackberg has written a well developed novel with interesting characters and a good back story. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is set in the current day but has flash backs to the early 1920's and 30's. It is interesting how well Lackberg uses the joys, trials and fears of having and raising children with the development of a murder mystery. Really well done and not melodramatic or saccharine. I continue to be impressed with her writing skills and so far each book has gotten better.
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on May 31, 2016
There is no what I call 'show-off' writing here. Ms Lackberg writes directly & draws the reader in. Interesting story illuminating Faulkner's famous saying: "The past is not dead. Actually, it's not even past." I like the way Camilla shows the long ago roots of the present chaos. Would suggest
a better editor for her though as she does include much that is not necessary to the plot & much that has zero to do with the plot. I fault the editor in this case as that is their job when and if us writers get off on tangents...especially important in the crime novel genre. Illuminating a detective's personal life is fine, but in this case such description went far beyond the norm & slipped into obsessive territory. The back story of the novel was rather fascinating and could easily have been expanded into a most engaging novel on its own. I look forward to Ms Lackberg one day writing a Swedish historical.
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on December 28, 2013
Unfortunately for me, this book was the first one on my new kindle. What a shame and waste of ten bucks. I concluded that Dancing With the Stars should be her new calling

Altho the author pulled together a clever little surprise in one of the way too many outlying characters/plots, all in all, I found this book uninspired, poorly organized and lacking any degree of focus. It seemed more like a first draft than the final. The author's obsession (think OCD) throughout with tortured details and TMI about new mothers makes one presume that the topic of nursing mothers and childbirth is overwhelming in her life. She would be well advised to keep it to herself and keep it out of her mystery books.

Ironically, the character for which the novel is named was in and out without any substantial character development. I was left wondering what came of the big sculpture project he was assigned, which received significant attention initially and then just fell off the author's radar as did many details along the way.

By the time I forced myself to the last page, I would have given it maybe 3 stars, but the last sentence made me feel I'd been reeled into a cheap trick. Shame on Ms. Lackberg for underestimating her readers' intelligence and patience. She should leave the formulaic series approach to experienced, talented authors.
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on July 7, 2014
This is a very good read on all levels. Plot is clever, characterization realistic, glimpse into modern Swedish life fascinating. At the same time, the day to day realities of life from a female perspective is heartfelt and believable, from love of junk TV to the serious issues of domestic abuse and adapting to motherhood.
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