THE HIDDEN CHILD

Written by Camilla Lackberg

Review written by Gwen Moffat

Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.


THE HIDDEN CHILD
Harper
RRP: £7.99
Released: 20th June 2011
Pbk

A Swedish crime writer finds a Nazi medal among her mother’s effects and shows it to a history teacher. Two days later he is murdered. During the war he was one of four close friends who have drifted apart but now, sixty years later, two more them die violently.

 

The author and her detective husband instigate an investigation that will connect medal and murders to an ancient infamy involving the four teenagers, and so shameful that no price is too high to pay to keep it under wraps.

 

A tedious story: hints of horror surprising undercurrents in a slough of cosy domesticity. The crime writer’s husband is on paternity leave and takes along their toddler to scenes of crime; his boss adopts a tiresome dog (and attends a birth); there is a cornucopia of babies, even foetuses: “a tiny lump in the stomach” (sic). Partners and spouses proliferate by way of several generations, with step-children and in-laws and yet more babies. The jokes are facetious, the style shapeless; one plunges back into that undercurrent of racist horror with a semblance of relief.

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