This Scandi-noir thriller is laced with female pain

This Scandi-noir thriller is laced with female pain

She lives up to her nickname, the ‘rock star of the Scandi-noir thriller’. For the back cover portrait of Cuckoo chick posed Camilla Läckberg (48) in a black leather suit that would not look out of place on Bono.

Cuckoo chick is the eleventh book in the popular Fjällbacka series with inspectors Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck. Fjällbacka is the region on the west coast of Sweden where Läckberg was born. A famous photographer was found murdered among his works of art the day before a gallery opening. A Nobel Prize winner is attacked in his home on a mini island off the coast. Meanwhile, Falck delves into a decades-old cold case: the murder of a transgender woman and her daughter. The cases appear to be connected.

With 31 million books sold, of which more than 3 million in the Netherlands alone, Läckberg is one of the most successful Swedish thriller authors. Not bad for a graduated economist who only started publishing after receiving a creative writing course as a gift from her first husband and her parents for Christmas.

As it should be in Scandi-noir thrillers, it is cold and dark

As it should be in Scandi-noir thrillers, it is cold and dark Cuckoo chick and melancholy and social involvement are essential components. The latter applies especially to the passages about the transgender world.

But unlike illustrious predecessors such as Sjöwall & Wahlöö, Henning Mankell and Håkan Nesser, Läckberg offers female readers many moments of recognition. Inspector Falck feels how “premenopause is creeping up on her.” A friend elaborates on life without a uterus. The discomforts of pregnancy and breast cancer are discussed, and it is repeatedly about the love between mother and child.

Falck likes Netflix Real Housewives Beverly Hills to binge watch. She can eat a bag of candy in record time. And she also enjoys wine evenings with friends and, reluctantly, power walks.

The men in Cuckoo chick are a bit more one-dimensional. Take Rickard, the money-hungry son of the Nobel Prize winner. When his girlfriend steps out of the shower naked, Rickard is amazed by his own body: “That fascinated him. That his brain could be annoyed by her, while his penis reacted to her naked presence as if on command.”

Läckberg doesn’t let her characters say very surprising things. The Nobel Prize winner’s wife is a famous publisher. When her husband puts the importance of literature into perspective, she says: “Literature is life and death. People come and go. We live. We die. But the literature we create lives on.” The aforementioned spendthrift Rickard thinks his parents are snobs who do not understand what life is really about: “Talent, intellect, giftedness – none of that really gave you status in the way that money did.”

Anyone who takes this for granted can enjoy themselves with Läckberg. Cuckoo chick has pace, offers varied characters and a surprising plot.