It seems that Nordic noir is not going away, from the high point times of the The Girl trilogy by Steig Larsson to the Wallander novels; noir from Scandinavia is in vogue and not retreating to the shadows.
The debut novel by Bengtsdotter, is one of those novels that takes a while to get its claws into you, and once it does, it refuses to let go.
Nordic noir follows a template of a structure familiar to crime readers old and new; a young detective fighting her own demons must go back to her hometown following a long absence as a new case opens up old wounds for not just our protagonist but the family and friends she left behind for the bright lights of a big city.
This familiar tale of redemption to overcome a failing is well handled. DI Charlie Lager, is a detective with an affliction for alcohol, but the type of drinking where she drinks to an oblivion yet she wakes up for work with no problem; her peers know of her vices and dance around the issue as she is good at her job.
A missing child in her hometown leads Charlie to head north away from Stockholm, at odds with her partner and at odds with the town she returns to; nevertheless Charlie must find the missing Annabelle before it is too late.
And yet it is not Annabelle she is really looking for, Charlie is really looking for herself and this journey home helps her. Good writing is not just by the numbers of thriller and crime tropes, Bengtsdotter navigates a gripping tale of kidnapping, infidelity and violence against women with assuredness.
For The Missing is out now from Orion Publishing on all formats.