Nordic noir, set in a magical Swedish landscape. A study of the dark side of marriage, motherhood and friendship.
It takes a while to see through the seeming shallow but perfect scene, almost to the point of believing the book to be some kind of romantic menage a trois. There is the ruggedly handsome husband, the well-scrubbed wholesome wife and the friend, stereotypically alluring and flirty. Then this gradually falls apart. All three of them lie and pretend to be decent human beings when none of them is.
The real darkness is uncovered when the mother admits to herself something about the baby. From this point each character (plus the peripheral neighbours) shows some very unattractive, and in some cases, very disturbing traits.
This is an intense and sinister tale. The characters at first are flat and simple, then become more unlikable and then finally appear vulnerable and damaged. The writing is emotionally taut and gritty, the perspective from the three.
A brief insight into the justice system in Sweden where a gentle police officer says 'It is not like America. Here we rehabilitate not punish.'
A promising debut, recommended.
Published by HQ on 21 February 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.