Not Your Average Crime Novel – ‘Unwanted’

kristina ohlsson book review

‘In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train.’

Suspicion immediately falls upon the husband who has previously been violent towards his estranged wife in the past, but is he really the killer? Despite hundreds of potential witnesses about on the platforms, no one notices that the girl  is taken from an arriving Stockholm train. Days later, she is found, dead, her body dumped outside the emergency department of a hospital, in the far north of Sweden.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you will almost certainly know that I have a predilection for crime fiction. Especially Nordic crime fiction. Many of the Scandinavians write in a highly descriptive way that gives a depth to the narrative and the  visual imagery. This sets them apart, I feel, from crime writers from other regions. And it doesn’t help that I like the dark, rain-sodden, fog- filled descriptions of the Scandinavian countryside! Well, I am a winter person, living in a sun- soaked country where everything is hot and dry and brown, so can you really blame me?

‘UNWANTEDis a brilliant first novel by Swedish author, Kristina Ohlsson and gives me  no reason to change my overriding view of  Scandic crime novels. Yet it is better than your average read. Far better. Whilst the crime might be a tad more unsavory than that found in other novels, the reader is spared the goriest of details, yet remains fully aware of the terror taking place.  Skilled writing, I think!

In this novel, you are very much taken along for the ride with the detectives, seeing what they see, thinking what they think. Readers are given more insights into the police process and procedures. We see how it is they try to piece the murder puzzle together: what steps must be followed, what angles have to be investigated, when discovering a new lead and how collaboration reveals important snippets of information. I’ve not found this in other crime novels. So it comes as no surprise to find that Kristina Ohlsson herself has worked for a police organization in Sweden and no doubt this makes her writing all the more authentic, and readable. It seems like real life!

Many crime novels reach their climax via a detective/investigator fitting the pieces of information together by having a private epiphany of sorts, which is only partially  shared with the readers until the final reveal; thus the reader is usually left to figure out his or her genius in crime analysis, for themselves, before a later explanation is given.  But not so with Kristina’s writing. She takes you along, on the roller coaster, with her characters, and I found this terribly appealing and definitely a ‘can’t put down’ factor.

The reader is also reminded that police detectives are humans with their own sets of personal entanglements and dramas and the policeman’s families also suffer from a case. Peder, a mid level detective on the team, with ambitious, slightly misogynistic leanings, begins to have marital problems as he tries to juggle the needs of his infant twins, his tired depressed wife, his long working hours and his own personal needs outside of work. At one point, he breaks down and it is his Mother who attempts to console him in a profound statement:

‘Things will change, Peder,’ she says. ‘Misery has its natural limits. There comes a point when you know for certain that things can’t get worse, only better.’

Now that we have been introduced to Peder, I am sure his personal journey will continue in subsequent novels, in this crime series. I will surely ponder about that.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

CPD (Can’t put down) Factor: 9.5/10

The good: Wonderful descriptive writing and imagery without being over the top

The bad: Haven’t found anything bad about this book yet.

The Ugly: We learn that police make blunders and have to live with that, somehow.

What will you think of it?

Will you enjoy it as much as me?

Who are your favourite crime authors?



14 thoughts on “Not Your Average Crime Novel – ‘Unwanted’”

  1. Hi Amanda. You have really made me interested in the book. So living in sun-soaked country makes you a winter person and I am the exact opposite 😀 along with many people (mostly Poles) in my daily life, we all long for sun and warm weather all year round..I especially love warm and sunny autumn days. We had the first real snowfall yesterday this year, but it’s just some light snow – you can only see it on the branches of trees and rooftops, almost none on the roads and sidewalks 🙂 I like good, proper snow (like in Finland) but just for a week or so of it would be sufficient for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. It is ironic that I like cooler weather. I guess we all want what we don’t get to have…. For me, it has more to do with my energy levels. High humidity and heat drain me to the point of being a sloth!! I just want to lie in the air conditioning and read on hot days, and we have summer for around 5 months a year !! Shame for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was smiling when I read your comment! I wish I could get away with 7 months of cold here, on the other hand 🙂 I do understand you though. I remember the hot 38 degrees we had last summer without any AC! It was terrible and made me unwilling to do anything.. I should definitely check out the book, I read via Kindle, I’ll try downloading it into the device.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, extremes of either temperature is hard to take. I am happy to swap the heat today for some cool as I have been sweating and it was very humid. A tropical storm in the afternoon has cooled it down a lot thankfully!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. An excellent review, Amanda, and very thorough. I’ve only read one detective novel set in Sweden and right now I can’t remember either the title or author. (How useless is that?) I really enjoyed it at the time – some years ago – and it was the first time I discovered that there are still people in Sweden who, like some Icelanders, still believe in elves.
    I’ll certainly have a look for this book. It sounds like a good one to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comments Millie. I do recommend this author as I think it offers something a little out of the ordinary and it is always fun to guess the culprit from the clues the author leaves!


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