The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg: Book Notes

You can’t like every book you read and if I find I’m not enjoying a book I stop reading it. But it’s not always so straight forward because a book can begin well and hook you into the story, get your attention then begin to irritate because it takes so long to get there, and you read on. Then when you get to the end you heave a sigh of relief that you have finished it. It was just about OK.

The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg is such a book. It began well – I wrote about the opening paragraphs in this post. They made me want to read on but I had some reservations because of the blurb on the back cover €“ €˜Expert at mixing scenes of domestic cosiness with blood-curdling horror’. Well, there is a lot of domestic cosiness and not really any blood-curdling horror. There are a few nasty scenes, but nothing that made me want to skim read, nothing in fact that I couldn’t read.

Synopsis from the back cover:

Christian Thydell’s dream has come true: his debut novel, The Mermaid, is published to rave reviews. So why is he as distant and unhappy as ever? When crime writer Erica Falck, who discovered Christian’s talents, learns he has been receiving anonymous threats, she investigates not just the messages but also the author’s mysterious past€¦

Meanwhile, one of Christian’s closest friends is missing. Erica’s husband, Detective Patrik Hedström, has his worst suspicions confirmed as the mind-games aimed at Christian and those around him become a disturbing reality.

But, with the victims themselves concealing evidence, the investigation is going nowhere. Is their silence driven by fear or guilt? And what is the secret they would rather die to protect than live to see revealed?

My view:

  • This is the sixth book in Camilla Lackberg’s  Fjällbacka series, so maybe I should have begun with the first book. However, I didn’t feel that I’d jumped into a series without understanding how the characters interacted, or that there were back stories that I should know, so I think it does work as a stand-alone book.
  • It’s written from several perspectives and has a second narrative interspersed with the main one. It’s not clear at first how these are related but it soon becomes apparent.
  • None of the characters came alive for me, apart from Erica  and Patrik and there was little I could visualise from the description of the location – it’s in Sweden, it’s cold and there is snow on the ground.
  • It’s unevenly paced, disjointed with snippets of information being passed between the characters and not shared with the reader, presumably to increase the suspense and tension, which it didn’t achieve for me. As a page-turner it just didn’t work, and I sighed mentally each time it came up.
  • The  description in places reminded me of an exercise I did on a training course in which you had to describe in detail how to make a cup of tea – decide to make a cup, pick up the kettle, take it to the tap etc. I am exaggerating, but you get the picture.
  • It’s predictable – I knew quite early on who the culprit was. That doesn’t necessarily mean it spoils a book, but in this instance it did because I kept on thinking, it’s … I couldn’t see why Erica and the police couldn’t see it either.
  • The ending was so irritating – a cliff hanger, aimed at getting you to read the next book??

I doubt I’ll read any of the other books in the series.

8 thoughts on “The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg: Book Notes

  1. Interesting. She’s such a famous Scandinavian author I somehow thought her books were good, so, oddly enough, I picked up one of this series at the library last week, The Hidden Child. I’ll give it a go but at the moment I seem to have a low tolerance for irritating books, have abandoned two books this last week, in fact, so I don’t give much for its chances given your comments. LOL.


    1. Cath, I’ve read reviews of The Drowning and it’s a book people either love or dislike and some people say it’s not as good as others in the series. I hope The Hidden Child is better – I think it’s the book before The Drowning!


  2. I’ve only read one Lacksberg – The Stranger – and I enjoyed it considerably more than you did this one, I think. But I agree with you about the irritation of the characters being allowed to know something that isn’t shared with the reader – I was hoping that was a one-off in The Stranger, but from your review it looks like it might be a recurring issue. 😦


    1. FictionFan, I did enjoy parts of it. It does seem as though that’s a recurring issue, I really don’t want to read any more of the same.


  3. I read the series from the start, and it probably does help if you read in order, but even though I did I lost interest and I doubt I’ll pick this one up. I’d like to follow Patrick and Erika’s story, but the flaws you mention – predictability, withheld information and end of book cliff-hangers – began to bug me and the books are a little too long to whip through.


  4. Margaret – Sorry to hear that you didn’t really care much for this one. I do think the series has changed over time. In my opinion, the first few novels had less of a focus on domestic matters than the more recent ones. I do agree with you completely about how irritating it is when the characters don’t have the wit to see things that are easy for the reader to work out. I’ve read books like that too.


  5. It sounds like this book would irritate me enough to just toss it aside. I particularly hate it when each step in a simple process is explained as though it is fascinating or important. I’m sure I won’t be reading this one. Thanks for the review.


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