To be honest, I was almost put off by the size of Erik Axl Sund’s The Crow Girl, because it’s one fat book. However, by the end I realised it was the shortest long book ever. It’s epic but with a paciness that will leave you racing to the end – those short chapters holding the promise of ‘just one more’ before lights out.
Reading The Crow Girl left me feeling like I was a junior PC in the Stockholm police. The length of the book allows the two authors to take the reader on a journey through almost a year’s worth of Swedish policing as a long and complex case is unravelled piece by piece. Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg is the lead in charge of an investigation to find the perpetrator behind a series of horrific murders of young boys – boys without identities. She’s faced with a lack of evidence and, even worse, a lack of support from the higher ranking prosecutors she reports to. With limited options she turns to therapist Sofia Zetterlund who specialises in psychopathic disorders, and their professional and personal relationship dominates the book.
In a book this size you would imagine a cast list as long as your arm but thankfully that is not the case. Each narrative angle features very few characters, giving them plenty of space to develop, and allows the reader to be fully immersed in the plot.
We explore two main themes in The Crow Girl: the effect our upbringing has on us and our sense of self and how the two are interlinked. I found the latter particularly fascinating as the authors introduce the condition of multiple-personality disorder and dissociative personalities to their crime scenes – if ‘you’, as you understand yourself, are not present when you commit a crime, who is to blame? Especially if this disorder has been created by continual damage suffered at the hands of a parent, a defence mechanism that eventually corrupts and turns to the attack?
The Crow Girl is a book about damage and revenge. It’s very dark and not for the faint-hearted, but if you love psychological thrillers and Scandi-crime then you won’t be able to resist this fast-paced, thought-provoking read.