cover image The Preacher

The Preacher

Camilla L%C3%A4ckberg, trans. from the Swedish by Steven T. Murray. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-60598-173-4

Swedish bestseller L%C3%A4ckberg's worthy second thriller set in the coastal town of Fj%C3%A4llbacka (after The Ice Princess) opens with a grim discovery%E2%80%94the naked fresh corpse of Tanja Schmidt, a German tourist, on top of the skeletal remains of two young women, later identified as Mona Thernblad and Siv Lantin. All three were killed in the same way, but as Det. Patrik Hedstr%C3%B6m and his team soon discover, Mona and Siv went missing in 1979, and Johannes Hult, the prime suspect in their disappearances, is long dead. The reason for a sadistic killer's reappearance may be hidden among the many secrets and conflicts of a local clan of religious eccentrics. The troubled Hults, from conniving founder (known as the Preacher) to philandering spouses, show a Ross Macdonaldesque love of twisted family relationships, while L%C3%A4ckberg's colorful, diverse police force, staffed with the competent, the incompetent, and the merely distracted, recalls the humanist touch of Dutch author Janwillem van de Wetering. (May)