cover image Cinderella Girl

Cinderella Girl

Carin Gerhardsen, trans. from the Swedish by Paul Norlen. Penguin U.K. (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-40-591407-9

Gerhardsen’s terrific second Hammarby novel featuring Det. Chief Insp. Conny Sjöberg (after The Gingerbread House) successfully melds two homicide cases: one the hit-and-run killing of an unidentified young mother, whose small son is found nearly dead of exposure; the other the strangulation of a 16-year-old girl aboard the Cinderella, a cruise ship en route to Finland. In a related plot thread, a three-year-old girl, Hanna, must fend for herself, locked alone in her family’s apartment. Meanwhile, Sjöberg is bedeviled by a midlife obsession with a red-haired witness from a previous investigation, and a lecherous police commissioner has targeted Det. Petra Westman, a rape survivor who’s working on identifying the hit-and-run victim. The meticulously crafted plot builds to a startling joint solution of the two cases. Gerhardsen depicts a welfare state that tries to instill a sense of responsibility among citizens but too often leaves people vulnerable to the thieves, addicts, pedophiles, and murderers who prey on the innocent, as epitomized by Hanna. (Dec.)