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Book Review: The Stonecutter: A Novel by Camilla Läckberg

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The Stonecutter by Camilla Läckberg is the third novel in the Fjallbacka mystery series. The series features policeman Patrik Hedstrom who works in a small town in Sweden. I chose to read The Stonecutter by Camilla Läckberg because I read one of the author’s previous books, The Ice Princess, and enjoyed it. There is another book in the series called The Preacher which I have not yet read.

In The Stonecutter, a fisherman at the small town of Fjallbacka pulls out the body of a small girl from local waters. She seems to have drowned but soon it is discovered that it is not the case. Police officer Patrik Hedstrom, a new father and friend of the girl’s parents, is put on the case. But Patrik discovers a sinister side of this small town, which is much more than he anticipated.

It’s 1923. Agnes stubborn, rich, and spoiled got pregnant by one of her father’s workers. When her father rejects her, Agnes sets in motion events which will have far reaching consequences.

This novel has a different structure than the previous The Ice Princess. The story alternates between past and present, while the time shifts (at the beginning of every chapter but not confusing one bit) have very little to do with the actual mystery; they do come together skillfully at the end. I did find the book exciting, Ms. Läckberg’s growth as an author is evident.

Läckberg juggles many issues during the story. Some have much to do with the mystery, some are just to throw the reader off track, and others have absolutely nothing to do with the mystery but simply introduce us to the characters’ psyche and allow growth.

One of the side issues, one that has nothing to do with the story, is postpartum depression which seems to affect many women in Fjallbacka. It seemed that the small town suffers from a case of postpartum depression but I think that we, as a society, don’t recognize how many women this diagnosis. The Ms. Läckberg does recognize the difficulties of stay at home moms. Not only the hard work which goes into taking care of a baby or a toddler, but also the lack of appreciation felt by society at large.

Unbeknownst to the reader, until practically the end of the story, the author spends a lot of time trying to diagnose what lies behind evil. The inherent assumption is that people are made evil, not born (even though that is the case for some) and even if they do something bad, in their mind, they cannot see what they did wrong. Personally I found this aspect of the book the most fascinating and extremely well done, it had me thinking about this issue for days afterwards.

The descriptions of small town life in Sweden are fascinating and filled with imagery. Like any small town, together with the quaint living come small town problems and politics. Swedish society is also represented in this book in all its glory, and its darkness, as well as in the affects of such a horrendous crime on a small community.

I found The Stonecutter an interesting read, following the mystery while trying to exculpate those who are deemed suspects. It is easy to see why the book has been a bestseller in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Related Reads:

The Ice Princess by Camilla Läck­berg

Three Sec­onds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hell­ström

  • 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; Reprint edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605983306

Buy this book in paper or electronic (Kindle) format

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  • http://bookdilettante.blogspot.com Harvee

    Unfortunately, I did find the two parallel narratives disjointed and thought the stories should have been connected much sooner in the novel.