The Gingerbread
PublisherPenguin
Date Published05 December 2013
 
 
ISBN-101405913789
ISBN-13978-1405913782
Formatpaperback
Pages400
Price£ 7.99

The Gingerbread House

by Carin Gerhardsen

When a series of brutal murders occur in central Stockholm within a short time, Detective Inspector Conny Sjöberg and the Hammarby police begin to suspect that there is a link between the deaths.


Review

The Gingerbread House author Carin Gerhardsen was originally a mathematician and has also worked as an IT consultant. Her logical thinking approach has enabled her to construct an excellent, haunting novel; it’s brutal in places and chillingly clinical in others, and will leave you remembering it long after you have finished it.

The book is Gerhardsen’s first novel in the Hammarby Series. These focus on Detective Inspector Conny Sjöberg and his team, who are solving cruel and often brutal murders in the southern parts of Stockholm. There are five books currently in the series but unfortunately, this is the only one translated to date.

The book opens 40 years before the present day with scenes of childhood bullying –  children can be so cruel – and lays the foundations for several gruesome murders in the present time. The plot twists and turns unexpectedly from the first murder where an estate agent is found bludgeoned to death in an old woman's kitchen to the final twist when all is revealed – but maybe not as you had expected.

In a clever sub-plot Petra Westman, a member of Sjöberg’s investigating team, is conducting her own unofficial investigation in connection with a personal matter. Such a plot could prove a distraction but Gerhardsen expertly runs the narratives side by side and allows the development of a very likeable additional character.

Research suggests that many of the scenes in the book were based on Gerhardsen’s own childhood and these experiences have enabled her to produce a most enjoyable and compelling read. Her descriptions of southern Sweden bring the cold urban landscape to life and her believable and authentic characters slot seamlessly into the intricate narrative.

The pace never slows or lets up and The Gingerbread House is very much a quality piece of writing, a taut and suspenseful thriller. It's also a novel that just might make you look back and reconsider your own childhood actions with chilling results!

Reviewed 22 March 2014 by Chris Smart