Synopsis from Good Reads:
In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick-the new commander of the Missing Persons Department-is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed-and hidden-in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.
I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.
The Forgotten Girls will be available February 3, 2015.
What I didn’t realize when I requested this book from NetGalley was that there were previous books involving the same characters. According to GoodReads this is book #7 in the Louise Rick / Camilla Lind series. However, most of these books are in Danish and there are only four, including The Forgotten Girls, that have been translated into English. I was a little confused by this and was afraid I would be missing too much, but Blaedel kindly answered my question on Twitter and this is the first book in the Special Search Unit trilogy and can be read without reading any of her previous books. That said, there were still a few times that I worried I was missing something from previous books, but Blaedel did a great job of including enough background information and context that I never felt lost.
Louise Rick is starting a new job heading up a special search unit for missing persons. As most of us feel when starting new jobs, it starts out not being what she expected and is having second thoughts. This is especially true when she’s assigned a detective that she didn’t want, Eik Nordstrom, who she finds passed out in a bar on his first day. I enjoyed watching how their relationship changed and developed throughout the story. Louise starts out very closed off and almost cold and Eik seems like an extreme chain-smoking slacker, but the more they work together, the more their true characters are revealed and they end up working very well together. Their relationship outside of the office evolves, as well. They actually reminded me a lot of John Tomasetti and Kate Burkholder from the Kate Burkholder series which is probably one of the reasons I liked them so much.
Their first case is to identify a woman found dead in the woods near where Louise grew up. The woman has very distinct scarring and they figure it will be an easy case to solve. However, no one matching her description has been reported missing. After releasing the photo to the public, the woman is identified as Lise. She and her twin sister, Mette, so close they were often referred to as just Lisemette, were patients in a home for the mentally disabled. The twist is that Lisemette died thirty years ago. Once Lise is positively identified, Louise and Eik begin the search for her possibly still missing twin.
It took a few chapters for the story to really take off for me, but once it did I was hooked. There were lots of twists and turns throughout the book. Woven along with the mystery of Lisemette is a killer rapist on the loose. As Louise and Eik investigate Lisemette, they find themselves involved in the rapist investigation, which also has ties to Louise’s past. There was also some definite darker themes. The twins, who were mentally disabled, were put into a home when they were three. It was heartbreaking to read the way the mentally disabled were treated back then. Parents just gave up raising their children and institutionalized them. They were then discouraged from visiting their children and they became known as “forgotten girls”.
In addition to Louise, we spend some time with her best friend, Camilla, who is a major bridezilla. As the stress of the wedding begins to wear on her, she dusts off her old journalist instincts and delves into the case Louise has told her about. I have to say for most of the book I didn’t really care for Camilla. However, once she stopped being so uptight about the wedding, she became a little more likable.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Forgotten Girls. Though there were a few times I felt some of the writing was a little lost in translation, the plot of the story really made up for it. I was surprised by the resolution of the central mystery and it left just enough of a cliffhanger about a mystery from Louise’s past that I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. I’ll definitely be reading Blaedel’s other books in the meantime. I would recommend this to fans of mystery/crime novels.
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars