Thursday, January 29, 2015


The Forgotten Girls is the captivating new entry in Sara Blaedel’s Danish crime fiction series featuring Louise Rick, the fourth printed in the U.S. I’m chagrined to admit it’s the first of Blaedel’s highly-praised works I’ve read. The good news? I have three more left to enjoy. Coming late to the party can have an upside.

As The Forgotten Girls begins, Louise has a new position managing the newly-created Special Search Agency, a unit of the National Police tasked with investigating criminal missing persons cases. She’s immediately faced with identifying the body of a woman with disfiguring scars found in the rural area where Louise grew up. The ME describes the body as that of “no ordinary woman,” but a mentally challenged individual who was profoundly neglected and isolated.

Louise is able to identify the woman as Lisemette Anderson, who, along with her twin sister, was sent to the Eliselund mental institution/orphanage at the age of three. Eliselund was a special kind of hell, where parents were discouraged from visiting, leaving most of the children abandoned, becoming “forgotten children.”

The twins were indeed forgotten, neither having been seen for over thirty years before Lisemette’s body is found. Of course, the more Louise and her cohorts dig, the more it becomes evident the goings-on at Eliselund were even worse than they first appeared.

I’m intentionally revealing as few facts as possible because they’re best appreciated in context. Blaedel tells a great story and teases out the clues and facts at the perfect clip. While the investigation into Lisemette’s death would have been enough to make this a highly recommended read, there’s much more to the story, with connections and twists that keep on coming.

Far from superfluous, however, each story thread and character is deftly handled by Blaedel and works to add something to the whole, moving the mystery along in an interesting way. If you’ve not read a book from the series before, have no fear. Even without the benefit of any back story I felt the author did a superb job making me feel at home with the recurring characters without bogging down the pace.

Louise herself was one of the highlights of the book for me, a tough cookie I enjoyed immensely. A strong, independent, professional woman who takes no grief and suffers no fools, she can also be a bit prickly. But her crusty exterior is more than strong efficiency, and I look forward to the next installment, which appears as if it’s going to delve into some of the mysteries of Louise’s past and how and why she formed her armor.

STREET SENSE:  With a great cast of characters you’ll want to revisit, and a well-told story that holds the reader in suspense, The Forgotten Girls is an early 2015 release not to be missed.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:  If she knew anything it was how to kick down doors. (This brief snippet is from the mind of Louise's best friend Camilla -- also a major character in the series -- but could easily be from either one of them. I love the fact that the book features women who are comfortable being kickass, so this passage, though simple, was a favorite.)

COVER NERD SAYS:  I liked quite a bit about this cover, particularly the way both the artwork and the text get smaller and virtually disappear near the top of the book. The cover definitely depicts a feeling of foreboding, so it's no surprise dark things take place on the pages within.


Pop Culture Nerd said...

I also like it that Sara's women are strong and prickly. I have this in my TBR stack. Thanks for the nice review!

Malcolm Avenue Review said...

I relate to her curmudgeonly side. I know this shocks no one.

Pop Culture Nerd said...

WHAT?! I always thought you were all about rainbows.

Malcolm Avenue Review said...

Sure. So long as there's a pot of "Get off my lawn!" at the end of it.

Pop Culture Nerd said...

That pot's over at my place.

Malcolm Avenue Review said...

I don't mind coming over there, I know there will be snacks.

About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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