By Kristina Ohlsson
Emily Bestler Books/Atria, $25.00, 357 pages
Unwanted explores the dark side of child abduction as a child is taken from a raucous train … only the girl’s shoes remain to bear witness. Ohlsson, who works in a counterterrorism office and previously was a security policy analyst for the National Swedish Police Board, obviously understands dark motives. Unwanted is the first installment of her crime series with Frederika Bergman, a somewhat prickly civilian investigative analyst specializing in crimes against women and children. In the midst of this investigation, Bergman seems to battle against the sexist male police officers (namely Alex Recht, a renowned detective, and Peder Rydh, a cocky and less-experienced detective) that have little respect for — or confidence in — her. The suspense builds within this difficult situation, while meanwhile 6-year-old Lillian has been abducted and Bergman’s colleagues seem only focused on the child’s father. Bergman senses something else.
Ohlsson should be added to reading lists that include other Scandinavian suspense authors, such as Jo Nesbo. However, Ohlsson’s work stands apart for its female protagonist who seems to break many stereotypical roles. It takes another abduction to refocus the team and solve these heartbreaking crimes. Unwanted is easily an addition to any suspense or crime fan.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Humphrey