We start, how so many crime fiction novels start, with a missing blond girl. She is not just any missing blond girl though, she is the step daughter of a local politician, last seen arguing with her Mum in a shopping centre.
Ulstein is to be congratulated for a pacey and twisty police procedural, which could have easily been a paint-by-numbers scandi-noir missing girl story. Instead we dance back and forward between the present day search of Iben Lind, and people and places from twenty years before a town away. What do they have to do with Iben? On the surface nothing, but slowly the story unfolds and Ulstein manages expertly give us just enough information to keep us hooked on guessing what will happen next, without giving away too much.
It’s not just the pacing that is expertly handled here but Ulstein also manages to deliver quick character sketches, which none the less leave us with rounded, interesting and relatable players in the story. There is very little to dislike in this book, and while I personally found some of the linguistic world building in the more slithery parts lacking in rigour, I doubt this is the kind of detail that would prove a barrier to anyone else’s enjoyment of the novel.