This is the first novel of a Swedish crime series featuring a recently widowed young psychologist, Siri Bergman, who helps patients confront their phobias even though she is unable to confront her own. She is afraid of the dark, and drinks herself to sleep every night.
Her best friend and office mate, Aina, consoles her:
“Being a depressed, passive failure with phobias can make you a better therapist, damn it. Just as long as you aren’t that way with your patients.”
Siri’s patients have troubling issues, but they usually aren’t too debilitating. Only one of them ever actually committed suicide. But now, another patient turns up dead – not, however, by her own hand. Not only has she been murdered, but her body was found close to Siri’s property.
Siri has reason to worry; a note found with the body blamed Siri, and Siri has received disturbing signs that someone is watching her. But who would want her dead? And who would know the details of her patients and the particulars of her own life besides her own colleagues?
Discussion: There is a very nice build-up of tension in this book as it becomes clear the killer must be someone known to both Siri and the readers, so that every encounter she has is fraught with disquietude. As the story moved forward I found myself reading faster and faster!
I liked the way the authors managed to integrate explanations of how psychotherapy works, without it sounding false or didactic. They also include, via a discussion with Siri’s friend Vijay who does criminal profiling, some interesting passages on the nature of evil. Vijay contends that evil people don’t exist. He observes:
“I think there are evil actions, carried out by broken people.”
Are these actions, then, more forgivable?
Evaluation: This is a promising series. I look forward to the next installment.
Published in the U.S. by Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2013