The story takes place in Denmark. This book is part of a series featuring Detective Louise Ricks. She has recently transferred from the Homicide Division to the Missing Persons Division. When the body of an unidentified, disfigured, developmentally-challenged young girl is discovered, Louise swings into action with her new “partner”, Eik, to find out her identity. They quickly learn that she was brought up in a special home for children with mental disabilities and had been declared dead three decades before. Soon, they discover the possibility of another long time missing twin. To complicate matters further, there is a sudden rash of crimes involving murder and rape, as well as missing persons. Louise wonders if they all might somehow be connected. As she and Eik work together to solve these cases, their stormy relationship calms down and grows closer. As the clues mount up, the tension builds and the reader’s interest is fully engaged as long kept secrets are revealed.
There are some contrived love scenes which do not do much to enhance this mystery, however, those who enjoy a bit of titillation, will be satisfied. In addition, the sex is relevant since there are two types of love experiences explored in the story. One is the lovemaking of perfectly normal couples, like Camille and Frederick and Eik and Louise, and the other involves someone who has a condition in which uncontrollable sexual drives lead to violent behavior. So the sex is really an important theme when the reader considers both kinds of love/lust experiences. One type is violent, driven purely by animal instinct, and the other is driven by the true desire and affection between two people.
The home took care of young girls who were mentally challenged. They were left in the care of strangers, and their parents were told it was best to cut off all ties with them. They were encouraged to abandon them to allow them to adjust to their new situation. The conditions under which some were kept would not be acceptable today and common sense should have prohibited that in the past. The barbaric way the mentally troubled and disabled were treated is explored, and the indifference and coldness of the staff as they often turned a blind eye and covered up the obvious abuse is examined, as well. The girls were “forgotten” because the parents were encouraged by the medical community to desert them.
As the cases are resolved, many revealing facts about Louise and her past are brought to light. There are hints of another in the series being developed as she informs the reader that she is going to become involved in working to find out what really happened to her former sweetheart. The book is pure fiction, but because it is based on information in some actual case files, it becomes that much more shocking when the horrific behavior and situation in homes that cared for disabled children is exposed and then condoned by complacent onlookers and apathetic employees.
It has been my experience that many Scandinavian authors shoot it out of the park, consistently, when it comes to mysteries, and this book was no exception. Content rather than unsavory language and gratuitous sex, lead the reader through the twists and turns of the tale.