The Disappeared (Alex Recht #3)
Kristina Ohlsson (translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy)
Simon & Schuster UK
Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster AU
Two years ago Alex Recht caught the case of a missing young woman. Despite his best efforts he was unable to find her and when the discovery comes in of a dismembered young woman’s body in a forest glade, he immediately knows that it’s Rebecca Trolle. Now they finally know what happened to that young woman who went missing, but now they have to find out the how, the why and the who.
As his team continues to excavate the site, they make a startling discovery. Buried further down, underneath where Rebecca was, is another body, this one male and one who has been there for a significantly longer period of time, some twenty or twenty-five years. Recht believes that the same killer is responsible for both bodies despite the time between the two and he begins to look at reasons that Rebecca was discovered so quickly whereas the other body has lay there for decades undiscovered until now.
Investigative Analyst Fredrika Bergman is assisting on the team investigating the murders and she is given the task of looking into Rebecca’s personal effects, seeing if there was something that was missed before, something that might give more clues. Rebecca was writing a dissertation on an infamous Swedish author when she was killed. Thea Aldrin wrote successful children’s books but was later outed as the author of two violent pornographic manuscripts and later jailed for murdering her ex-partner, stabbing him to death with a knife. Her teenage son disappeared prior to the murder and hasn’t been seen since – it was strongly suggested that Thea murdered him too. As Fredrika looks to discover what Rebecca might’ve found out, she is surprised to see the name of her own partner, Spencer Lagergren scribbled amidst Rebecca’s notes. Fredrika knows she should tell someone about this: Alex Recht probably. Or even confront Spencer himself. But troubled by her partner’s recent actions, she keeps it to herself, risking everything.
But Fredrika isn’t the only member of the team personally drawn into the case. And the way in which it plays out is going to have devastating consequences for the officer, both personally and professionally.
The Disappeared is the third novel in Swedish crime writer Kristina Ohlsson’s Alext Recht series, following Unwanted and Silenced. It revolves around Stockholm policeman Alex Recht, a veteran of over 30 or so years in the force who has put together a task force to help him investigate serious crimes. Alex recently lost his wife Lena and is still adjusting to life as a widower, throwing himself into his work. His dedication (which could be seen as obsession) does raise some flags with HR who are monitoring him closely to make sure that the pressure isn’t getting to him. Alex has chosen Invesigative Analyst Fredrika Bergman (not a career police officer, she’s on rotation) and younger detective Peder Rydh to make up the inner circle. After some bumps, the team has ironed out into a smooth machine and things are going well when the body of Rebecca Tolle is found, two years after she vanished.
With every installment, this series just gets better. This one contains not only a fabulous mystery for the reader to piece together, but also delves even more into the personal lives of Alex, Fredrika and Peder. All have had their problems throughout the two books preceding this one: Alex discovered his beloved wife was terminally ill, Fredrika had issues with her much-older partner Spencer that culminated in him finally leaving his wife for her and they also welcomed a daughter and Peder and his wife went through a separation and reconciliation with Peder seeing the error of his former ways. He and his wife have enjoyed a stronger connection and relationship of late with him being more considerate and her appreciating that and becoming more tolerant of his often invasive and difficult work hours. And all of that kind of makes what happens in this novel all the more heartbreaking.
The story is interspersed throughout with snippets of interviews – Recht and Bergman are being questioned by investigators, some sort of internal affairs officers on the events that led up to an ‘incident’ at the conclusion of the case. I found them to be the perfect accompaniment to the story of the investigation because they don’t give too much away. There are several incidents (such as Fredrika Bergman sitting on the fact that her lover’s name has come up in her investigation as well as Alex Recht’s personal relationship with someone connected to the case) that could be the catalyst for the investigation. This novel gives you plenty of time to form some ideas, reject them and then start to piece together everything that happened and the way in which it unfolds is so good. All of the books are lengthy and this is the longest yet but they never feel that way. The discoveries of the other bodies (yep plural) in the same grave as Rebecca Tolle’s throws up much more for the team to investigate as they struggle to identify the two older bodies and work out how they are all connected and who could’ve killed three people over a three decade period.
I love how this series is diving more and more into the personal lives of the three main members of the task force. We have always been given snippets but I feel as though this book really took that to another level and gave us a much better insight of the situation for Recht, Bergman and Rydh away from work. I could see the events unfolding that would conclude the novel about 100-150 pages out but that just made the experience all the more tense to read as it all came true. I can’t wait for the 4th novel to be translated into English so that I can see how it addresses the fallout.
Book #292 of 2013