When three year old Hanna wakes up, she is alone in a locked apartment. The following morning detective Petra Westman from the Hammarby police department finds a badly injured infant and a dead woman in a park. Oddly – no one seems to be missing them. Before the police investigation barely has time to begin, yet another dead body is found. This time it is a teenage girl, murdered on a cruise. The investigation team moves from one dead body to another, attempting to find a common thread and stop the brutal violence.
I love crime novels set in Sweden, don’t ask me why and so I had to pick up Cinderella Girl when I saw it at the library, even though I hadn’t heard of Carin Gerhardsen before. I am glad I did because it’s a recommended read.
The story opens with a young mother, home alone, with a crying baby – a baby that thanks to a throat infection hasn’t slept for days. She is exhausted herself and just needs him to sleep. In desperation she decides – despite it being the middle of the night – that a walk in his pram might do it. And so she heads out. Across town, two sisters aged 14 and 16 are also heading out, escaping their drunken mom and her drunken friends and looking for something to occupy them. You just know it isn’t going to end well. And for most of them it doesn’t.
One of the things I liked about this book was how the story was told – in days, with you finding out what each person (including the detectives) are doing at a particular time. It means that you get a great insight into each character and also see how each strand of the story – which you know have to be related but you aren’t sure how – are coming together. With each interaction everything starts to fall into place – for you as the reader and for the police. When I finally got to the end, I felt really satisfied with how things had worked out, although for little Hanna life would never be the same again and I can see years of therapy in her future!
It was a clever and different way to tell a tale and kept my interest throughout. The characters were well developed, though there were perhaps a few too many police officers to keep track of on the periphery. However, there is a sub-plot involving Petra that I want to know more about. To do that, I’ll have to go back to book one as that’s where “it”, whatever “it” is, all started – and I will (I already have the book on hold at the library) because this was a really good read. Liked it a lot.