When I first picked up The Lost Woman I did not realize that it was a part of a series – the 9th book, no less! That made me slightly worried, but I was surprised as to how easy it was to dive right in. Blaedel nicely covers all that needs to be covered without going too far into backtracking, which kept from being tedious and kept the plot moving quickly. The book is a very quick read, one which you could confidently bring onto an eight hour flight and be finished with thirty minutes to spare for a nap.
One successful aspect I’d like to mention is the setup. I had certain issues with the believability of some of the characters (such as Eik using his boss’s basement/dungeon to hide out while on drinking binges, or him impetuously running off to England and being a nuisance to the local police) but the unfolding of the story drew me in. Who was Sofie Parker and why was a she target? How could a woman go from being a pastor’s wife in Denmark, to running around Europe, to being shot in England in front of her husband and daughter? Blaedel certainly has the ability to keep her readers engrossed.
Which is saying quite a bit because I found it hard to connect to the rest of the story about assisted suicides. It is certainly an interesting and current topic, but not really something I’d want to explore in a murder mystery. Everything felt overly safe. Everyone had good intentions (even the killer) and there were many discussions about death, morality, and God. Which, again, are interesting topics, but felt somewhat out of place in this genre.
There were also some plot holes and lapses in logic that I found hard to get past (be warned of spoilers from here on). One of them was the incident in Italy, just as Sofie disappears the first time. She and Eik were traveling with two men who were discovered dead just as Sofie went missing. Did no one really question what Eik might have had to do with the dead men? And more realistically, if Sofie had something to do with it? Who wouldn’t suspect her? She disappears the night they die, taking her things with her. Wouldn’t she be a prime suspect? Wouldn’t that be suspicious? That said, maybe this case was covered in the previous eight books of the series, but the outcome of it was never made clear in The Lost Woman, even though Eik seemed to have been involved during the event and in the subsequent investigation of Sofie’s disappearance.
The other part I had issues with was the ending. How could a sixteen-year-old girl freely travel from England to Denmark, find a pastor in a small town, then travel to another town to find a man who she thinks is her mother’s killer, then break into his ex-wife’s house? When she is wounded and he runs off, she chases him into a dark forest, and seemingly manages to shoot him in the heart. Braedel never specifies that she shot him, but it is strongly suggested, and I think it would be rather difficult to shoot yourself in the heart with a rifle. So a girl shoots a man with his own rifle, in a snowy dark forest, while critically wounded. I dunno, seems like a stretch to me.
Despite those things, and some others, I did enjoy the book. It definitely won’t be my favourite but it was an interesting dive into a genre that I do not usually read. It kept my interest and reading it didn’t feel like a chore.
Lookout for The Lost Woman coming February 7th by Hachett Book Group.