The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg

A quick rundown… The fourth book in the Patrik Hedstrom / Erica Falck series (yes, I have missed a couple) deals with a seemingly straightforward accident, a reality star’s murder and Patrik and Erica’s wedding.

Strengths: Ending was fantastic (did not pick who ‘did it’ at all). Like the mix of police procedural with a happy domestic life!

Weaknesses: I read it out of order of the series and got some brief spoilers. It’s also known as The Stranger.

Why I read it: Like this series and it was $5

Pages: 378

Published: 2011 (2206 in Swedish)

Publisher: Harper Collins

Setting: Sweden

Rating: 9 out of 10

If you liked this, try: Henning Mankell or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series

I really enjoy Camilla Lackberg’s books involving Patrik and Erica. They are good, solid crime reads which have the added bonus of a detective in a healthy, mainly happy relationship (take that, Kurt Wallender). I like the balance of the civilian Erica, with her family/wedding problems to Patrik’s police issues.

This book is known by two different titles – beware picking them both up. The Gallows Bird was the title in the UK, but in Australia and Singapore, I’ve seen it called The Stranger. Why? I can’t figure it out. Neither title gives huge clues to what’s inside.

In this book, several crimes have been committed. A woman is found dead after running into a tree. She was very drunk and it is suggested that she was drink driving. Meanwhile, a reality programme, Sodding Tatum (excellent name) starts filming nearby. It contains winners and popular contestants from a range of programmes from Big Brother to Jersey Shore type shows. What the aim of the show is was never clear, but seems to involve conflict, drinking and sex. However, Sodding Tatum goes one step beyond the normal realms of reality TV when a contestant is found murdered. Patrik of course is on the case, but can he and his team (including new recruit Hanna) link up the reasons for these depths.

What I like about Lackberg’s books is that the crimes are not formulaic – there are elements of the effect on the victims (such as the drink driver’s daughter) and how they shape the future. Having the wedding of Patrik and Erica going on in the background was also a nice light touch to the dramatic murders.

Despite this being a series, you can read them in any order. The only spoiler is the relationship between Erica and Patrik progressing! The story ends on a teasing note, which segues rather nicely into the next book. A cheap trick? Not for me, I’ll keep reading no matter what!

Definitely one of the better crime series out there.

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