cover image The Drowning

The Drowning

Camilla Läckberg, trans. from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (480p) ISBN 978-1-60598-856-6

Läckberg’s uneven sixth novel set in the Swedish town of Fjällbacka (after 2014’s The Hidden Child) opens promisingly enough with the baffling disappearance of family man Magnus Kjellner, in circumstances suggesting payback for some horrific long-past crime. Writer Erica Falck subsequently discovers that one of Magnus’s best friends, Christian Thydell—an overnight sensation with a debut novel that Erica helped edit—has been receiving threatening letters. Even pregnant with twins, Erica naturally can’t resist trying to investigate. Tension quickly mounts with flashbacks to the increasingly toxic childhood of a mystery boy, a foster child placed with a couple who no longer want him after they have a daughter of their own. Despite the book’s many strengths, including a rich community of characters, dramatic scenes of violence, and a haunting tone, the psychologically fishy plot fails to convince. A stunning cliffhanger climax suggests that next time around might be better. Agent: Joakim Hansson, Nordin Literary Agency (Sweden). (Sept.)