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Good Girls Don’t Tell by Liselotte Roll

November 23, 2016

When Erik Berggren, a man with learning disabilities is found mutilated and brutally murdered Inspector Magnus Kalo and his team are mystified.  Other than being an alcoholic, the victim seems to have led a completely normal, if rather lonely, life.

Then Erik’s mother is viciously attacked in a similar way.  Investigating family secrets that stretch back decades and a trail that leads to the Argentinian military Junta’s reign of terror Magnus realises that someone is stalking him and his own family.  His wife, Linn, a therapist, offers her own insights into the case until she too is attacked.

As the Swedish winter draws in clues seem to disappear under the falling snow. It’s clear that Magnus is on the trail of a master manipulator with a brutal mission…

I’m happy to be on the blogtour for Good Girls Don’t Tell. Inspector Magnus Kalo is a new detective on the UK scene, from Swedish author Liselotte Roll. He and his wife, Linn, a psychologist live with their two children in a city apartment where they have a close relationship, though the two children take their toll on their family life and Linn often wishes that Magnus had a less demanding job. Magnus too struggles with his tiredness. He has an odd medical symptom which accompanies the tiredness – a tingling in his legs but never quite finds the time or the impetus to consult a doctor.

Together with his colleagues Roger, the lonely detective who takes on a pet ferret for company and his boss Arne, they are a competent, if somewhat personally dysfunctional team.

Erik Berggren has been found in brutally murdered and was first tortured and genitally mutilated. When Magnus goes to a care home to inform Erik’s mother, who suffers from dementia, about his death, he finds her alive but similarly tortured.  The mother is unable to say anything coherent about her attacker, but it seems clear that the two attacks must be related.

As the police trace Erik’s father to Argentina, they find that he was heavily implicated in the junta’s regime of murder and torture and that he had also been accused of the rape of a young girl.

Magnus and his colleagues seek the help of the Argentinian police in tracing the woman as they search for the motive that would drive someone to kill in such a terrible fashion.

What they uncover is a truly awful story of historic violence and cruelty that has left a lasting impact on all those it has touched. The individual brutality stands as testament to the human tragedy wrought by the violent Argentinian dictatorship.

As they delve deeper into the case, it becomes clear that the perpetrator has will stop at nothing to accomplish their agenda; even threatening the lives of Magnus and his family.

As the police try to piece the clues together, more people will die and the perpetrator will turn on those who hunt him.

This is a complex tale which switches between Sweden and Argentina and is full of misdirection and wrong turns.   Linn tries to use her psychology training to build a profile of the murderer but in doing so she puts herself at risk. Here Linn reminded me somewhat of the Erika Falck character in Camilla Lackberg’s books, as Linn does uncover some elements that help move the crime forward, though she is rather foolhardy in her actions when she does so.

I was left feeling in two minds about this book, if I’m honest. The characters are well drawn and the thesis is an interesting one, with fast moving action, and I enjoyed the tension created y the situations, but ultimately I found it a little unsatisfying.

I liked the principal characters, and I can see how Magnus and Linn could go on to become the heart of a series. But I did find some of the language a little clunky and I was disappointed by the overly fast and somewhat under-explained conclusion and perpetrator reveal.

Overall, a decent read with some excellent characters and strong ideas.

Good Girls Don’t Tell by Liselotte Roll, translated by Ian Giles,  is published by World Editions on 17th November 2016

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