Review: Kristina Ohlsson – The Disappeared

THE_DISAPPEARED_1373318561PAnother huge tome of a book, The Disappeared runs to nearly 600 pages so it’s not surprising that it took me around a week to read. When a book is that long you inevitably look to see if there is any padding that could have been left out. The Disappeared’s length is mainly down to the author’s style of writing which, although initially frustrating, made the book a substantial and complex read.

When the body of a woman is found buried in woodland, newly bereaved Alex Recht from the Stockholm police believes it to be that of the missing student, Rebecca Trolle. But the grave holds further secrets when it’s discovered that other bodies have been buried there, with the deaths having taken place years apart. As the team uncover the dead girl’s past, and her link to an elderly children’s author, their personal lives become entangled in the investigation leading to an internal inquiry.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ohlsson and I am now tempted to read her earlier novels. There is a clear backstory to all the principal police protagonists which is hinted at the text but never allowed to dominate it. In many respects, The Disappeared has all the hallmarks of a quintessential Swedish crime novel. The landscape forms an important part of the narrative, in the position of the dead bodies and the role it plays in some of the violent scenes. We also get a mix in the narrative of the police investigation and the characters’ personal lives. There’s a sense in the book of lives on the cusp of change which I’m sure will strike a chord with many readers.

The investigation is both shocking and slightly depressing. The idea of snuff films has been written about before in crime fiction although I think the author did well to include male murder victims to balance some of the extreme imagery. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, there’s only so much violence against women that I can stomach.

For me, this was an excellent introduction to a writer that I hadn’t read before. Other readers often comment on the fact that they don’t like to start books mid-series. I did so here; it was fine and, if anything, made me inclined to read the earlier books.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for my review copy. The translation was by Marlaine Delargy.

40 thoughts on “Review: Kristina Ohlsson – The Disappeared

    1. I know! I was talking about this earlier with a friend. The problem is that if I don’t like a book, I tend to stop reading it. I think I need to start ploughing on and letting my readers know why…..


    2. d

      On page 274 of 374 of “Unwanted”. Really curious to know who the killer is. She has kept me reading so far, which for me is surprising. Never really had an interest in crime fiction. I’m still reading.


  1. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – Fine review as ever – I have to admit I’ve not read Ohlsson before, but it sounds from your review as though I’m missing something good. And if a book is engaging enough, even a long one doesn’t feel like a tome when you’re reading it.


  2. This sounds excellent – I have been tending to opt for longer books recently and this sounds like it has a lot of depth. I don’t have many crime novels on my TBR that are much longer than 300 pages or so, although I’m tackling one at the moment actually (In The Woods by Tana French). I’ll certainly keep an eye out for this author.


  3. You have definitely gotten me interested in Ohlsson’s books, and I would probably start at an earlier book. But I will wait until I have read some of the books by the five or ten Scandinavian authors that I have now that I have not sampled.


  4. I’m putting Ohlsson on my “WannaRead” list, thanks to your review. I don’t mind a 600-pager, if the novel has substance and is not going round in circles blind. Still, it’s an investment in time, and a book has got to be worth the trouble.



  5. Kathy D.

    Oh, sigh, another book to read. A friend liked her previous book. I just don’t know how to read all these books, especially since my reading speed has slowed considerably. I think I’ll start with the 400-pager.


  6. Pingback: The Best of January’s Reading | crimepieces

  7. Pingback: Review: The Disappeared by Kristina Ohlsson | The Game's Afoot

  8. Brownie

    Any one ever figure that last chapter out? That is the question that led me to this website. The reference to the study being off limits to the wife seemed familiar.


  9. daniela

    I picket up the book at my local library and never read this author before. I truly enjoyed the book and will be reading her two previous ones. I am a bit perplexed by the ending. Does anyone know who that person who is watching the movie is?


    1. Kelsey Fullem

      I have a hunch that it was Torbjorn Ross- he takes a particular interest in getting Thea to confess and my theory is he is trying protect Axberger and Manfred from being found out because he was one of the few who purchased the film. I may be wrong, but this is the only logical conclusion I could come to assuming the author isn’t mentioning a man that hasn’t been a part of the book at all. It says the man has a wife and Manfred and Elias are dead and Johan never married. It clearly can’t be Thea. The only other character that makes sense to me is Ross.


  10. 1954

    Just finished the book…..last chapter has me puzzled. Who was it? Is he a cop? Or, is he connected to the university or the Guardian Angels? Does anyone have an answer? My thoughts…..we may see him crop up in a future story. I don’t think it is #4.


  11. Spacekitty

    At least I’m not the only person confused by the last chapter. I had to read it twice and still couldn’t figure out who it is watching the film.


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