The latest book from Camilla Lackberg, Buried Angels, is thoroughly engaging and entertaining. The married couple, Patrik Hedstrom, policeman, and Erica Falck, author, become embroiled in a mystery from decades earlier on the island of Valö, off the coast of Fjällbacka. This island was home to the summer camp that children from Fjällbacka all attended, but the big white house has lain dormant for many years following the disappearance of the headmaster and his family one Easter Sunday afternoon. There were five pupils staying over that fateful weekend, but they were ostensibly out fishing all afternoon as they were not allowed to join the headmaster’s family luncheon. No-one has ever uncovered what happened to the family of five or why the youngest child, a little girl, was found wandering the house on her own. Fast-forward to the present time and the surviving girl is a married woman who has tragically lost her own child and she and her husband have come back to Valö to renovate the house and set it up as a Bed and Breakfast.
The reader is offered glimpses into the past, well before the headmaster and his family existed, through the portrayal of Dagmar, a desperately isolated woman living at the beginning of the 20th century, her daughter Laura, and, in turn, her daughter, Inez. These parallel stories, of the generations of the women of one family and the headmaster’s family, will intersect towards the end of the novel in a surprising and fateful way.
Concurrently, the lives of the five pupils, all boys, who were on the island at the time of the family’s disappearance are scrutinized and we come to realize that they have been holding secrets from that time all their lives. Nazism is part of this side of the narrative; Nazi Hermann Göring is thought to have visited one of the islands in the Fjällbacka archipelago, and this fact is woven into the plot, with his apparent visit to Sweden pivotal to the lives of Dagmar and her offspring.
Lackberg has created an intricate plot, spanning decades and generations of local families. As the reader works through it, and various things are revealed, it loses none of its fascination, keeping you engaged to the end. I think this is Camilla Lackberg’s best so far and I am thrilled that we will have the opportunity to hear Camilla speak of Buried Angels, and all her novels, when she joins us at Reader’s Feast in Melbourne, 19 May. Full details: www.readersfeast.com.au