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.

First Chapter: The Drowning

First chapterEvery Tuesday Diane at  Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, sharing the first paragraph or (a few) of a book she’s reading or thinking about reading soon.

I bought a secondhand copy of this book I bought a few weeks ago and am looking forward to reading it. It’s The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg, a Swedish author whose books I keep seeing on other book blogs.

The Drowning begins:

He had known that sooner or later it would come to light again. Something like that was impossible to hide. Every word had led him closer to what was unnameable and appalling. what he had been trying for so many years to repress.

Now escape was no longer an option. He felt the morning air fill his lungs as he walked as fast as he could. His heart was pounding in his chest. He didn’t want to go there, but he had to. If someone was there, he would have to speak. If nobody was there he would continue on his way to work, as if nothing had happened.

This is a good opening that makes me want to read on, but I do have resevations after reading the Guardian blurb on the back cover – ‘Expert at mixing scenes of domestic cosiness with blood-curdling horror’. I don’t like horror – maybe I won’t be able to finish this book?