Title: The Swedish Girl
Author: Alex Gray
Publication Date: 1st January 2013
About the book:
“Eighteen-year-old Kirsty Wilson can’t believe her luck when she lands a room in a luxury Glasgow flat owned by the beautiful Eva Magnusson, a wealthy fellow student from Stockholm. But her initial delight turns to terror when Kirsty finds the Swedish girl lying dead in their home and their male flatmate accused of her murder. Kirsty refuses to accept that he is guilty and, inspired by family friend Detective Superintendent Lorimer, sets out to clear his name.
Meanwhile, Lorimer calls on his trusted colleague, psychologist Solly Brightman, to help unravel the truth behind the enigmatic Eva’s life and death. But it is not long until another woman, bearing a marked resemblance to Eva, is brutally murdered in Glasgow. Horrified, Lorimer and his team realise that Kirsty could be right. Is it possible that Glasgow’s finest detective has put the wrong man behind bars? And is there a cold-blooded killer out there orchestrating the death of their next innocent victim?
In this absolutely gripping read, Alex Gray sends her dynamic Scottish detective from the gritty heart of Glasgow to the snowy streets of Stockholm in his toughest case yet.”
What I thought:
I’ll be honest I never wanted this book. That’s perhaps unfair, I never set out to intentionally buy this book, I went to buy something else in Waterstones, I can’t remember what, and it was part of their ‘buy one, get one half price’ deal. I saw this, thought the blurb on the back looked interesting so I picked it up and it has sat on my shelf ever since. So this January I finally got around to reading it and I am pleased I did.
The story is set in Glasgow, Scotland – now I read a lot of crime novels that are set in Scotland but I tend to read books set primarily on the east coast, Rebus, Inspector McLean and Karen Pirie books by Val McDermid. I suspect having moved up to Dundee for university, and now living in Fife and working in Edinburgh I have an inherent bias to stories set in areas I know well. I’ve not spent as much time in Glasgow, a day here and there spent in the city centre shopping, however I found Alex Gray really succeeded in bringing Glasgow to life for me.
I found the characters engaging, both the main and auxiliary characters. Having randomly picked up this book I found myself starting the series a fair way through, The Swedish Girl is actually the 10th story in Alex Gray’s William Lorimer series, so I’ve almost certainly missed out on some of the back story, in this book Lorimer has just returned to A Division as Detective Superintendent, formerly he was a DCI based there and so there’s clearly history with some of the junior officers that I’ve missed out on. As well as Lorimer’s DI Grant and DS Wilson married couple pathologist Rosie Fergusson and psychologist Solly Brightman round off the main characters. I found Solly a particularly interesting character, maybe due to my degree in Psychology, and the friendship between Rosie, Solly and the Lorimers is obviously very close and I’m keen to go back and see if it’s always been the case or something that has developed over the series.
The Swedish girl of the title is Eva Magnusson, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, who is murdered in her own flat. Eva and her flatmates are cleverly tied into the central characters as one of the flatmates is Kirsty, the daughter of DS Wilson. Kirsty becomes convinced that Colin, a second flatmate charged with the murder of Eva, is innocent and confides in family friend Lorimer who then takes a personal interest in the case. This is perhaps the only aspect of the story that concerned me slightly. To be fair to Alex Gray it’s not so much the plot the fact it focuses the mind on the fact there are probably innocent people sitting in prison charged with a crime they didn’t commit who don’t have a friend with a convenient link to a senior police officer.
It was definitely an enjoyable read, I made my way through the 464 pages in just a couple of days and found myself staying awake until almost 1am just to finish off the last few chapters as I was so close to the end and finding out whodunit. I liked the way the story moved to focus on the different characters, my only slight criticism was sometimes I felt the transitions between a little jarring. Occasionally it was only a page break in the middle of a chapter and sometimes it took me a moment to figure out which character the focus had switched to.
Would I recommend it:
Yes, I would definitely recommend The Swedish Girl, for me it worked as stand alone novel, the plot was fully contained within the book, with a satisfying conclusion within the last few chapters. I possibly missed out on something having not read the other books but I still really enjoyed it. It’s certainly convinced me to go back to the start and follow William Lorimer from the beginning.
Other books in the William Lorimer series – Via Goodreads