Book review: Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson (Fredrika Bergman #1)

Someone is abducting small children and leaving their dead bodies with UNWANTED scribbled on their foreheads. Fredrika Bergman is an academician and a civilian, and a new entrant on the investigation team whose instincts and insights are being ignored by her senior male colleagues at the Police department. Will the culprit keep getting away or will the team come together past its differences and nab him?

Whoever said a book will take you to places that you might not otherwise get a chance to visit. While I would say that reading any author is like going inside his head and at times there you will find how a psycho thinks and works and there you might also find the wonder and inquisitiveness of a small child.

Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson is a thriller that will take you through many Swedish towns and cities in search of the perpetrator of a crime that takes place in Stockholm. A young child of six, Lillian, is abducted from a crowded train. No one notices that the child has gone missing and so no one can say when that might have happened. Is it a coincidence that her mother was left behind at the earlier station? Sara- the mother had gotten down from the train to make a phone call during the 10-minute wait at that station. Is it something the child's father, who is separated from Sara, would do to her daughter to punish Sara in some way? Lilian's clothes and her hair are sent to Sara in a package and soon her little body is found outside a hospital in a distant town. UNWANTED is scribbled on her forehead. And pretty soon another child is snatched and then yet another. The investigators need to find who is behind these killings and why; and they need to do it fast before any more children turn up dead.

Investigating the case are Alex Recht, a legend in Police departments for the number of cases he has solved, Fredrika Bergman- who to the chagrin of her colleagues is a new entrant who is an academician and a civilian, and the very sexist young gun Peter Rydh. The investigation team has other members as well but none so deserving a mention as Erica who takes phone calls and provides administrative support to the team. Read the book and you will know what I mean by the end.

Getting on, the book has a parent-child thread running all through it in different dimensions. Peter has been blessed with twins, Alex has an estranged son who has moved to a different continent, Erica is a single mother raising two kids and Fredrika needs to take some decisions regarding motherhood.

The books shows how the characters develop and grow during the investigation; how they bond and how they earn each other's respect and only then the investigation goes full steam ahead. Fredrika being a civilian, academician and woman has to counter men doubting her judgments and abilities but in the end is acknowledged for her insights and instincts.

The story is riddled with the personal lives of the team members and this is quite expected, it being the first in a series. The theme though is creepy, this makes for quick read. in parts distressing and in parts racy, the book manages to keep you hooked but isn't really more than momentarily gratification. The book ends with Alex's heroic attempt to save a boy from the hands of the killer and on a note telling us that we will meet these characters again in the next instalment.