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Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson
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Apr 09, 12

Read in March, 2012

UNWANTED
Kristina Ohlsson
A new Swedish author has been translated into English, adding to the already long list of outstanding Scandinavian authors. Ohlsson will be one to watch for future offerings.
A young girl is kidnapped from a crowded train to Stockholm and is found in the driveway of a hospital, miles from Stockholm. She is naked, with the word “unwanted” cut into her forehead. Her mother is distraught and the signs point to her estranged husband, the child’s father. He is indeed an arrogant and mean wife beater, but would he kill his only child? His mother, who feels like she is out of Psycho, gives him an alibi filled with holes. Something does not feel right to the investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman, who is assigned to Inspector Alex Recht. She openly disagrees with Recht and follows some of her own intuitions.
When a second child is found dead, naked and with the word “unwanted” into her forehead, the team realizes they are dealing with a ruthless killer. Fredrika continues to pursue the victim’s mothers for something in their past that would cause a total stranger to kidnap and kill their children.
She is fighting against her own team’s prejudicial attitudes, the mothers’ helplessness, and the strong sense of impending doom as they all search for a ruthless killer who is obviously one step ahead and not making mistakes.
Ohlsson changes points of view throughout the novel. Besides the main characters of Fredirka and Alex, she has chapters dedicated to telling the story from the point of view of an obviously damaged young woman who refers to her savior/torturer as The Man. Another young woman is found dead and there are signs that she may have had links to someone similar to The Man. What do all these people have in common that might lead the team to the killer, or is it killers?
Ohlsson keeps the tension high, threading it through different ribbons of the story, moving characters like chessmen toward a collision course. Unwanted is a police procedural and a psychological thriller rolled into one. As the story develops, so does the reader’s picture of Fredrika. She will be returning in future crime novels by Ohlsson and without a doubt will have a strong fan following. Ohlsson is a story teller of promise.

Barbara Ford
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