The Forgotten Girls
If you have even a passing interest in mystery novels, you have to pick up and get going on the Louise Rick series by Sara Blaedel. Reading them chronologically will be a problem, given that only three of the nine volumes in this riveting storyline have been published in the United States thus far. Do what you need to do to gather them up and jump on now; you will not be sorry.
THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS, which has just been published in the United States and is the seventh in the series overall, is frightening in many ways, a study in the evil that people quietly do. It is an excellent place to meet Louise Rick (and a thank you to translator Signe Rod Golly for the introduction). As the novel opens, Louise has been newly installed as the head of Denmark’s Missing Persons Department. Her watch has barely begun when the bodies of two women are found in separate but nearby locations.
"THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS has it all. At its heart, it is a puzzling, intricate mystery whose solution packs a horrific double-punch. It is also a very sad work, though almost heartwarming in its conclusion. It thus tugs at your heartstrings, even as the narrative jerks you through at breakneck speed."
The first victim appears to have died as the result of an accident, namely a fall off of a ledge. She has no identification on her person, and her only notable physical quality is marked scarring on the side of her face. An autopsy reveals that her brain has characteristics consistent with low intelligence, yet she also appeared to have had sexual intercourse within a few hours of her death. The second woman, who is found while the police are investigating the first discovery, is a child care worker who obviously has been murdered. She is quickly identified, but the two deaths do not seem to be linked.
Louise and her partner, Eik Nordstrom, are surprised when their investigation into the unknown woman reveals that she is one of a pair of twin girls who was institutionalized at a local mental asylum and recorded as having died on the same day decades previously. The knowledge creates an even larger puzzle for Louise. How could a woman who died 20 years before suddenly materialize on the edge of a forest, freshly dead? And where is her sister, from whom she was reportedly inseparable? Louise is told by her superior that the case is closed, given that she has identified the body, but she is not satisfied.
However, Louise’s investigation eventually leads her back to the area where she herself was raised and is the last place she wants to be. She has her own set of tragedies with which she has yet to deal, and as she uncovers what has happened to the unfortunate woman in the intervening decades, she finds that her own past may well intersect with her investigation, particularly when a series of new attacks begin to occur. It may be that the death of the child care worker and the woman who supposedly passed away so long ago are related after all. Before the novel ends, Louise will have to come to grips with her own past, though the answers she seeks may put her in unexpected danger.
THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS has it all. At its heart, it is a puzzling, intricate mystery whose solution packs a horrific double-punch. It is also a very sad work, though almost heartwarming in its conclusion. It thus tugs at your heartstrings, even as the narrative jerks you through at breakneck speed. Once you start, you will have no choice but to finish it; the need to know what happened is that compelling. And while the relationship between the straight-arrow, no-nonsense Louise Rick and the alcoholic but brilliant Eik Nordstrom is predictable, you will love every exchange between them as well.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 6, 2015