The Lost Woman: A Louise Rick Novel
Sara Blaedel is a literary force of nature in her native Denmark, and her newly published (in the United States) THE LOST WOMAN is a sterling example of why. This installment of the Louise Rick series is the third to be seen in the US; several preceding titles have yet to be released here, but the absence of those (or unfamiliarity even with the books published here thus far) will not prevent you from starting with and enjoying THE LOST WOMAN, thanks to Blaedel’s ability to bring new readers up to snuff. Kudos as well to translator Mark Kline, without whom this fine title would be, well, unreadable.
Louise Rick is head of the Copenhagen police department's elite Special Search Agency. She is a single mother living with her son, Jonas, and, more recently, her colleague Eik, with whom she has formed a relationship. The dipping of pen in the office ink is causing Louise some professional complications, and as THE LOST WOMAN begins, it appears that either she or Eik is going to have to transfer out of the department. That goes on the back burner, though, when notification of an event changes everything.
"Blaedel strikes a fine and delicate balance between the personal and the professional in THE LOST WOMAN, as she has done with the other books in this wonderful series."
Eik is a bit off the track, even in the best of times, though not without reason. He is quietly obsessed with an episode from his past. Almost two decades ago, he was in a relationship with a woman named Sofie Parker, whom he had met while on vacation. While they were traveling, Sofie suddenly disappeared under mysterious circumstances, which at least indicated that she might have met with foul play. Eik has remained haunted by this occurrence ever since, and his dwelling on the topic has affected, to some degree, his relationship with Louise.
In the present, it suddenly develops that Sofie has been living quietly in England for 16 years and has a husband and daughter. This is revealed to the world when she is murdered in her own kitchen by a sniper’s bullet. When Eik learns of the crime, he abruptly and impetuously leaves for England without a word to Louise, who is left in the lurch in more ways than one. Furious with Eik for not telling her what was happening, Louise travels to England to retrieve him. Eik is somewhat quiet about the whole matter, even as Louise seethes. The situation comes to a head, however, when Eik pulls a disappearing act once again and returns to England where he is promptly arrested for Sofie’s murder.
It turns out that Eik had been corresponding with Sofie for several weeks, and he had been told that he was in fact the father of Sofie’s teenage daughter. The English police feel that Eik had motive to kill Sofie and surely had opportunity. Yet he couldn’t have committed the murder. It seems that a series of similar killings are occurring in Denmark, with some of them being done while Eik sits in jail. This raises another issue, of course: Why is someone killing people, seemingly at random? Then there is the question as to why Sofie disappeared to begin with. Louise has her hands full with the investigation, even as she attempts to reach an understanding with Eik.
Meanwhile, an unknown killer is undoubtedly waiting to strike again against a victim whose identity cannot be predicted. At least, it seems that way.
Blaedel strikes a fine and delicate balance between the personal and the professional in THE LOST WOMAN, as she has done with the other books in this wonderful series. The mysteries that she creates put one somewhat in the mind of the John Steed/Emma Peel era of “The Avengers” television series. Those who can’t get enough of finely tuned mysteries, particularly of the police procedural type, will find this book and this author particularly riveting.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 17, 2017