The Swedish Girl - Alex Gray

This is one of a series featuring Glasgow Det. Superintendent Bill Lorimer. All the regulars are back: his wife Maggie (teacher), Prof. Solly Brightman (psychologist/profiler) & Dr. Rosie Fergusson (police pathologist/Solly's wife).

Due to cutbacks, Lorimer has been returned to his old station but now he's the boss & he's welcomed with open arms. He doesn't have long to settle in before they catch their first murder case.

Eva Magnusson seemed to have everything. Money, beauty, brains & a doting father. She came to Glasgow from Sweden for university & lived with 4 roomies in a gorgeous flat. Everyone she met was struck by her perfect manners & appearance. Too bad it was all a facade.

When her flatmate Kirsty Wilson gets home late one night, she finds Eva dead on the living room floor. Her father is DS Wilson, one of the cops from Lorimer's station. Although he assigns the case to DI Jo Grant, Lorimer takes more than a passing interest in the investigation.

And so it begins. Initial evidence points to Colin, one of the young men also living in the flat & he's quickly arrested. Then a second young woman is assaulted. Her resemblance to Eva is startling...have they got the wrong guy?

Meanwhile, Kirsty can't accept her room mate is a killer & starts her own investigation. Encouraged by Lorimer, she goes through Eva's things & soon finds some clues to pass on. It becomes apparent the Swedish girl had a few secrets & as the team continues digging, they can hardly keep up with the number of credible suspects.

Sounds like a real page turner, right? Oddly enough, not. This book got me thinking about how our tastes can change as we expand our reading lists with new authors & genres. I read several of the older books in this series years ago but for some reason hadn't picked one up for awhile. I remembered enjoying them so decided to jump back in with this instalment.

But I guess my preferences have changed as I found this a slow & unchallenging read. I almost put it down several times during the first half but hate to put any book on the DNF pile so kept slogging away.

This is not the Lorimer I remember. He comes across as indecisive & constantly second guesses himself, strange qualities for a superintendent. He quickly takes an active role & it consumes his thoughts on & off the job. There's no mention of any other cases or duties that would surely require his attention. Also, it's difficult to believe an officer at his level would not only encourage a civilian involved in the case (Kirsty) to carry out their own investigation but divulge confidential information to her concerning what they've uncovered. 

DI Jo Grant is a familiar stereotype as the tough young female cop (although she dressed better than most in popular fiction). She is remarkably close minded & barely skirts insubordination in her dealings with Lorimer. When her speedy arrest of Colin is questioned, her first thought is for herself & the effect on her career, not the suffering of a possibly innocent young man sitting in jail. As for the arrest itself, it's made on the basis of extremely weak evidence & just didn't seem credible. I'm hardly an expert on police procedure but I think any lawyer worth their salt would have had him out PDQ.

At the core of these novels are the relationships between Lorimer, Maggie, Solly & Rosie. The two couples are close friends & frequently get together. It's all very nice, polite and...dare I say it...bland (gasp).

There are several more assaults on pretty blondes as the book progresses (and Colin remains banged up) & this is the only aspect of the plot that creates any suspense as you'll figure out early on who killed Eva.

So this is where I apologize to the author & say it's not you...it's me. We've grown apart. Readers who have been faithful fans of these books over the years will find much the same here & no doubt enjoy this instalment as they have the others.